Senate Bill Holds Planned Parenthood Criminally Liable for Harvesting Aborted Babies Still Alive

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 23, 2015   |   12:10PM   |   Washington, DC

A leading pro-life senator has introduced the Senate version of a House-approved pro-life bill that would hold the Planned Parenthood abortion business criminally liable for harvesting body parts from aborted babies who are technically still alive.

The center for Medical Progress has released 10 videos catching and exposing Planned Parenthood officials selling aborted babies and their body parts. One of the most shocking videos caught the nation’s biggest abortion business harvesting the brain of an aborted baby who was still alive.

The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, sponsored by pro-life Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE), along with 20 Senate co-sponsors, would make failure to provide standard medical care to children born alive during an abortion a federal crime.  It would also apply stronger penalties in cases where an overt act is taken to kill the abortion survivor. Under the pro-life bill there is also a civil right of action for mothers of children who survive an abortion to hold the abortion provider accountable.

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The House approved the measure last week.

“If we can’t come together and agree that newborn babies deserve care, our talk about ‘human rights’ and ‘inherent dignity’ is empty,” said Senator Sasse. “This is an opportunity for well-meaning people to set aside our differences and work to protect babies. I’m grateful that the House did that last week and I’m glad to begin that process in the Senate today.”

The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which is identical to that passed by the House of Representatives last week on a bipartisan vote of 248-177, would protect newborns that survive abortions by requiring appropriate care and admission to a hospital.

Despite passage of the bill, the Obama administration says President Barack Obama would veto the measure. The position statement explaining the opposition to the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act says the pro-life bill “would impose new legal requirements related to the provision of abortion services in certain circumstances, which would likely have a chilling effect, reducing access to care.”

Several senators commented on the new pro-life bill.

“Nebraska has always been a leader in providing protections for unborn children,” said Senator Deb Fischer. “I’m proud to cosponsor this legislation to help ensure that these babies receive the care they deserve at every stage of life. I commend Senator Sasse for introducing it.”

“We have a moral responsibility to protect our most vulnerable, and to prioritize precious human life over death,” said Senator John Cornyn. “The necessity to protect the life of a newborn child should be without question or controversy, and I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle can unite behind this important legislation.”

“We cannot stand idly by and allow those who can’t fight for themselves receive substandard care or simply no care at all,” Senator Steve Daines stated. “The right to life is protected by our Constitution and is part of the framework of the Declaration of Independence. We must continue to be a voice for those who have none. We need to get this common sense legislation passed and on the President’s desk.”

“As a mother and grandmother, I remain steadfast in my commitment to protect the most vulnerable, which is an important measure of any society,” said Senator Joni Ernst. “This commonsense legislation ensures that all babies born into this world – regardless of the circumstances surrounding their birth – are treated with the dignity, care, and compassion that they rightly deserve.”

“This bill is about protecting the most innocent and vulnerable,” said Senator Chuck Grassley. “It’s about ensuring that every breathing baby gets a chance at life. And, at its most basic level, it’s about a common sense principle that a baby who has survived an abortion procedure deserves to be treated with dignity. This is a bill worthy of everybody’s support.”

“Society has an obligation to protect life,” Senator Ron Johnson said. “It is my hope that we all can agree on this fundamental truth. In today’s society, the need to protect life outside the womb is urgent. I support the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act in the hope that it will strengthen protections for the most vulnerable people in society.”

“I believe it is the duty of our government to protect the life of the born and unborn as a right guaranteed under the Constitution,” Senator Rand Paul said.

“This bill ensures innocent babies who are born alive receive the care and medical treatment they need,” Senator Rob Portman stated. “It’s about treating all human life with dignity, no matter how vulnerable, and I’m pleased to support this bill.”

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“This is not a pro-life versus pro-choice issue: it is a matter of fact,” said Senator Mike Rounds. “A baby who survives an abortion has the same rights under the law as any other newborn baby. In the history of the world, the true test of society is how well we treat the most vulnerable among us. The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act is an opportunity to do the right thing and make certain we are protecting the most helpless and defenseless in our society.”

“When it comes to protecting babies, we know what’s right and what’s wrong. What’s right is providing them the opportunity to grow, to learn, to become the bright eyed, world-changing children who we all cherish and protect, and I’m proud to be an original co-sponsor of this bill,” said Senator Thom Tillis.

In one of the shocking undercover videos exposing Planned Parenthood, Dr. Savita Ginde, Medical Director of Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains says “sometimes we get—if someone delivers before we get to see them for a procedure—they are intact…”  that is, Madame Speaker,  born alive. Breathing, crying, gasping for air. One fetal tissue broker describes on the video watching a “fetus …just fall out.” And left to die.”

In the video CMP released exposing how Planned Parenthood harvests organs from babies who are still alive, the video features Holly O’Donnell, a licensed phlebotomist who unsuspectingly took a job as a “procurement technician” at the fetal tissue company and biotech start-up StemExpress in late 2012. That’s the company that acts as a middleman and purchases the body parts of aborted babies from Planned Parenthood to sell to research universities and other places. StemExpress was partnered with Planned Parenthood up until last week, when it quietly announced it ended its relationship with the abortion corporation.

The video includes O’Donnell’s eyewitness narrative of the daily practice of fetal body parts harvesting in Planned Parenthood abortion clinics. She tells the harrowing story of harvesting an intact brain from a late-term male unborn baby whose heart was still beating after the abortion.

O’Donnell describes the harvesting, or “procurement,” of organs from a nearly intact late-term baby aborted at Planned Parenthood Mar Monte’s Alameda clinic in San Jose, California.

The procurement of body parts from aborted babies who are still alive is a violation of the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, a pro-life bill President George W. Bush signed into law to protect unborn babies who survive abortions. Now, Congress wants to add teeth to that law to make it so Planned Parenthood or other abortion companies would be held criminally liable for breaking the law.

The National Right to Life Committee provided LifeNews a detailed analysis of the groundbreaking new pro-life legislation, H.R. 3504. The information comes in the form of a letter from top NRLC officials to members of Congress urging a vote for the bill.

In 2002, Congress approved, without a dissenting vote, the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act (BAIPA), subsequently signed into law by President George W. Bush and codified as 1 U.S.C. §8. This important law states that “every infant member of the species homo sapiens who is born alive at any stage of development” is a “person” for all federal law purposes. The bill defines “born alive” in terms of explicit criteria – “complete expulsion from his or her mother . . . at any stage of development, who after such expulsion or extraction breathes or has a beating heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles, regardless of whether the umbilical cord has been cut, and regardless of whether the expulsion or extraction occurs as a result of natural or induced labor, cesarean section, or induced abortion.”

The BAIPA was a response to troubling indications, well summarized in the House Judiciary Committee’s excellent 2001 report on the legislation, that some abortion providers and pro-abortion activists did not regard infants born alive during abortion procedures as legal persons – especially if the infants were deemed to be “pre-viable” (i.e., have limited life expectancy due to prematurity). Such a mindset puts a substantial number of live-born infant persons in jeopardy of gross neglect or overt violence. Live birth, as defined in 1 U.S.C. §8, may occur a month before “viability.” BAIPA made it crystal clear that life expectancy is entirely irrelevant for purposes of legal personhood.

However, in the years since 1 U.S.C. §8 was enacted, evidences have multiplied that some abortion providers do not regard babies born alive during abortions as persons, and do not provide them with the types of care that would be provided to premature infants who are born spontaneously. In some cases, such born-alive infants are even subjected to overt acts of deadly violence. In 2013, Dr. Kermit Gosnell of Philadelphia was convicted under state law of multiple homicides of such born-alive infants, but such a prosecution and conviction is uncommon. In some jurisdictions, local authorities seem reluctant to investigate reports of infants born alive during abortions, or to bring appropriate indictments even in cases in which the publicly reported evidence of gross neglect or overt lethal acts seems strong.

Public concern has been increased by a recent series of hidden-camera videos released by the Center for Medical Progress, in which various persons described events and practices within certain Planned Parenthood abortion clinics that, at the very least, raise questions about whether it is generally recognized among abortion-clinic personnel that a born-alive baby is a legal “person,” whether before or after “viability.” Other passages raise similar questions regarding some persons who operate firms that obtain and sell baby body parts, obtained from abortion clinics.

National Right to Life believes that it is time for Congress to act decisively to put the entire abortion industry on notice that when they treat a born-alive human person as medical waste, as a source for organ harvesting, or as a creature who may be subjected to lethal violence with impunity, they will do so at grave legal peril. H.R. 3504 would enact an explicit requirement that a baby born alive during an abortion must be afforded “the same degree” of care that would apply “to any other child born alive at the same gestational age,” including transportation to a hospital. This language does not dictate bona fide medical judgments nor require futile measures, but rather, requires that babies born alive during abortions are treated in the same manner as those who are spontaneously born prematurely. This language is based on very similar provisions contained within H.R. 36, passed by the House of Representatives on May 13, 2015.

In addition, the bill applies the existing penalties of 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1111 (the federal murder statute) to anyone who performs “an overt act that kills a child born alive.” This would apply, for example, to an abortion clinic staff person who dissects a breathing born-alive infant in order to harvest an intact liver, or to an abortionist who ends a born-alive baby’s whimpers with a sharp blow to the skull, or by snipping the spine.

In addition, the bill provides a civil cause of action to women who are harmed by violations of the act. The civil action provisions are similar to language in H.R. 36.

Original co-sponors to the legislation include Ms. Fischer (R-NE), Mr. McConnell (R-KY), Mr. Blunt (R-MO), Mr. Coats (R-IN), Mr. Cornyn (R-TX), Mr. Daines (R-MT), Ms. Ernst (R-IA), Mr. Graham (R-SC), Mr. Grassley (R-IA), Mr. Inhofe (R-OK), Mr. Johnson (R-WI), Mr. Lankford (R-OK), Mr. McCain (R-AZ), Mr. Moran (R-KS), Mr. Paul (R-KY), Mr. Perdue (R-GA), Mr. Portman (R-OH), Mr. Rounds (R-SD), Mr. Rubio (R-FL), and Mr. Tillis (R-NC).