As hundreds of thousands of pro-life people prepare to march in the March for Life, the House of Representatives voted to approve the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act — legislation protecting babies who survive abortions.
The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (H.R. 4712) passed 241-183. All Republicans voted for final passage, but only six Democrats voted in favor of it.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said the bill was necessary to protect babies who are born alive after botched abortions.
He said, “This bill states simply that if a baby is born after a failed abortion attempt, he or she should be given the same medical care as a baby born any other way. In line with our longstanding commitment to empower women, mothers will never be held criminally accountable. However, doctors who fail to provide medical care to newborns will be held criminally accountable. There is absolutely no ambiguity here. This is about protecting babies who are born and alive, and nobody should be against that.”
The bill would amend existing U.S. law to “prohibit a health care practitioner from failing to exercise the proper degree of care in the case of a child who survives an abortion or attempted abortion.”
Health care practitioners present when a child is born alive during an abortion procedure are required, at the risk of fines and imprisonment, to “exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as a reasonably diligent and conscientious health care practitioner would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age” and “ensure that the child born alive is immediately transported and admitted to a hospital.”
H.R. 4712 contains 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.
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise told LifeNews:
Here in Congress we must protect those who cannot protect themselves, and the House did just that today with the passage of the Born-Alive Survivors Protection Act. Our bill protects babies who survive a botched abortion attempt by imposing criminal penalties on abortionists who intentionally harm, kill, or harvest body parts of these innocent lives. It’s unconscionable that as a country we would allow the the murder or harm of babies born alive, and those who disregard human life in that way should face the most serious consequences.
“I am proud that we passed this strong pro-life legislation on a day when hundreds of thousands of Americans from across the country came to our nation’s capital and stood up for those most vulnerable among us in the annual March for Life. There is nothing more honorable than fighting for the right to life, and my full support is with those who are marching today.”
Leading pro-life groups applauded the vote.
National Right to Life President Carol Tobias commented, “The 183 House Democrats who voted against the bill will need to try to explain why they voted against making it a crime to 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.”
The bill was introduced on December 21st by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and is currently co-sponsored by 60 of her colleagues in the House. The legislation would strengthen enforcement of existing law, such as the 2002 Born Alive Infants Protection Act. The House passed a version of the bill in 2015 but it did not make progress in the Senate.
Blackburn talked with LifeNews about the importance of the bill.
“This Act will ensure that doctors treat babies who survive an abortion the same way they would treat babies born under any other circumstances. We have heard horror stories of babies being strangled, suffocated, or neglected to die. We have heard from survivors of a failed abortion, who would have lost their lives if it was not for someone stepping in and saving them. This is unacceptable, and has to change. The Act will require doctors to give or seek immediate medical assistance for the baby, or be fined and/or imprisoned up to five years. If the doctor kills the baby or attempts to kill the baby, they will be charged,” she explained.
“Another important part of this Act is that it also protects women by ensuring that no criminal charges can be brought against mothers,” the congresswoman added.
The House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, which Blackburn chaired, found in their final report in January 2017 that abortion providers could be using techniques that resulted in infants born alive during abortion.
They wrote that, according to documents obtained in their investigation, many researchers want tissue from late-gestation infants “untainted by feticidal agents.”
They concluded in their report that “abortion providers may modify abortion procedures, in apparent violation of the law, to increase the odds of getting an intact infant cadaver (e.g., increase the number of laminaria placed in a patient’s cervix to achieve greater dilation). Clearly, these factors increase the likelihood that unborn infants are born alive during late second-trimester abortions, and raise the question whether these infants’ civil rights are recognized by abortion providers.”
Blackburn told LifeNews: “Because of our steadfast work, the Department of Justice has taken up the four federal criminal referrals, and the FBI has taken up the eleven state criminal referrals. The DOJ will look into the sale of fetal tissue and baby body parts from organizations like Planned Parenthood, and ensure proper judicial action is taken.”
Though abortion advocates sometimes deny it, babies are born alive after failed abortion attempts. Nurse Jill Stanek became a nationally-known figure after she testified to Congress about finding a baby who was born alive after a botched abortion and left to die at a Chicago-area hospital.
Stanek’s experience shocked and horrified millions of people, and her testimony helped to pass the Born Alive Infants Protection Act under President George W. Bush.
In February 2016, LifeNews reported a baby was born alive after a botched abortion at a late-term abortion facility in Phoenix, Arizona. The baby later died at the hospital.
A 911 audio file, obtained by NBC 11 in Arizona, confirmed that the abortion clinic staff saw the 21-week baby was alive and breathing before it died. Reports did not indicate whether the baby was a boy or girl.
One of the nurses said she saw the baby move more than 10 minutes after it was taken from the womb, according to KPNX 12 News. When the nurse took the baby to weigh it on a scale, she said she saw it move and struggle to breath. “Oh my God, this fetus is moving,” she said, according to police.
LifeNews has documented dozens of cases of babies who were miraculously born alive after failed abortions. Melissa Ohden, Gianna Jessen and Claire Culwell are just a few examples. The three women are strong pro-life advocates who speak across the country about how their lives are valuable, even though they almost were killed in the womb by abortionists.
In March 2016, Ohden shared her story during a U.S. Senate Judiciary hearing, and urged lawmakers to support the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.
The national pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) released the following statement in response:
“Justice and compassion took a great leap forward today,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “We thank Leader McCarthy and our allies in the House for holding a timely vote on this crucial bill, as hundreds of thousands of pro-life Americans rally at Congress’ doorstep. We urge the Senate follow their colleagues’ lead and pass the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act as well as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would end cruel late-term abortions after five months of pregnancy.”
Ohden, who survived a saline abortion in 1977, and Stanek were present for the vote.
Stanek said, “Horrific crimes are taking place in abortion facilities around the country. Children born alive are denied medical care and left to die – cold, alone, abandoned and discarded like medical waste. This is infanticide, plain and simple. Everyone should be able to agree on equal protection under the law for these children.”
“What I would hope that comes out of this is not only that more children like me are protected and given proper medical care when we survive, but that women receive education,” Ohden told CNSNews.com following her testimony. “Let’s talk about the truth, the truth behind how children feel pain, the truth about what abortion does, the truth of what abortion is.”