National Law Banning "Live Birth" Abortions Needs Better Enforcement

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 28, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

National Law Banning "Live Birth" Abortions Needs Better Enforcement

RSS Newsfeed Email article
Add to My Yahoo! Printer friendly

by Marian L. Ward
May 28, 2008 Note: Marian L. Ward writes for the Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee. CWA is a pro-woman, pro-life group that lobbies Congress and addresses pro-life issues on a national basis.

Until a whistle-blower blew the lid off a little-known practice, babies that survived abortions lacked clear legal rights and protection. Jill Stanek, once a nurse at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, IL, entered the abortion battle in 1999 when she discovered that babies that “accidentally” survived abortions were placed in a closet and left to die.

In 2000 and 2001 she testified about her experience to the US House Committee on the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on the Constitution on behalf of the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act.

Her credible eye-witness testimony thrust this practice before lawmakers and helped pass a federal law defining that a baby who is born alive is in fact a person deserving respect. She now faces the challenge of ensuring that this law is enforced.

Stanek’s public stance eventually cost her job at Christ Hospital, but their loss was the pro-life community’s gain. She is currently an activist, columnist and blogger.

Congress passed the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act (BAIPA) and it was signed by President Bush in 2002. More than 30 states had already passed similar measures beforehand.

But legislation is just empty words without enforcement.

A little research renders stories of breathing infants being smothered in biohazard bags or refusal by clinic workers to administer emergency care as in the case of baby Rowan. Both of these situations occurred after the passage of the Act and there are no doubt countless other violations of BAIPA that have gone unreported.

Why does this barbaric activity continue? One answer lies in the legislation itself. BAIPA lacks penalties for violations. Thankfully, there are possible avenues for enforcement. The Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) have been charged with this task.

Jill Stanek offers suggestions for jump-starting enforcement. For one, Mrs. Stanek suggests requiring abortion clinics involved in late-term abortions to have resuscitation equipment on the premises and personnel trained in neonatal resuscitation.

For another, she recommends requiring the Centers for Disease Control create a separate category for induced labor abortions, technically “vaginal prostaglandin abortions,” for reporting purposes. Currently it lumps induced labor abortions into the “medical abortions” category along with RU-486 abortions.

Another strategy comes from Regent University Law Review article by student Roger Byron (Fall 2006, Vol. 19, No. 1) entitled “Children of a Lesser Law.”

In his article, Byron supports amending the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) to include prevention of abuse and neglect of all infants born alive as defined by BAIPA.

Byron would also include the following, “…an immediate transfer of parental custody procedure; an express requirement that all abortionists provide immediate onsite neonatal resuscitation and stabilization procedures for any child born alive, including immediate patient transfer to a qualified, independent medical professional for treatment; specific penalties for violations; and appointment of a disinterested third party to neutralize the inherent conflict of interests present when an infant is born alive through an abortion attempt.”

One important avenue that can be pursued immediately is reporting violations.

Pro-life organizations and individuals are encouraged to report any known or suspected acts (that can be verified) to the Center for Medicaid Services, both the regional office and the headquarters. The Center has a compliance office and an investigation office that look into these reports.

By reporting these cases, a record of violations can be built citing the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act around the country.

The toll free number for the Center for Medicaid Services is (866) 226-1819.

BAIPA is a quality piece of legislation. Let’s make every effort we can to see that this law is enforced and our smallest citizens protected inasmuch as we are able.