Alabama House Passes Bill Stopping Infanticide, Requiring Medical Care for Babies Born Alive After Abortions

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   May 22, 2019   |   11:32AM   |   Montgomery, AL

Alabama lawmakers are doing everything they can to protect babies’ lives in their state, including a new piece of legislation this month to prevent infanticide.

On Tuesday, the state House passed a bill to require that basic medical care be provided to infants who survive abortions, the AP reports. The vote was 66-18.

“I do not see how anyone with a conscious could oppose rendering aid to a child born alive,” said state Rep. Ginny Shaver, R-Leesburg, the lead sponsor of the bill.

The bill requires doctors to provide the same level of medical care to a baby who survives an abortion as they would to any other baby born at that stage of development. Those failing to do so could face up to 20 years in prison, according to the report.

The Birmingham News reports Democrats who opposed the legislation said there is no evidence that babies survive abortions in Alabama. Others argued the bill is just an attempt to “demonize” abortionists.

“Here in the state of Alabama, we don’t do late-term abortions,” said state Rep. Merika Coleman, D-Pleasant Grove, pointing to the currently-enforced state law that prohibits abortions after 22 weeks.

“The situation that the sponsor talked about, we don’t have documented cases in the state of Alabama. I was just asking for the data,” Coleman said. “And I think it’s irresponsible for us as a Legislature to pass laws when we don’t have the data that actually backs it up.”

Though extremely rare, premature babies have survived after being born at just 22 weeks. The earliest known premature baby to survive was born at 21 weeks and four days of pregnancy.

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Alabama Department of Public Health data also suggest that abortions on viable unborn babies have occurred. A 2008 inspection report noted that the Alabama Women’s Center in Huntsville misdiagnosed a woman’s pregnancy as 20 weeks when the unborn baby really was 28 weeks (past viability).

Pro-life lawmakers are working to crack down on infanticide across the nation. State lawmakers in Kentucky, Texas, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Montana also have introduced legislation to protect abortion survivors from infanticide this spring. However, the Democratic governors in several of those states said they will veto the bills.

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, as well as the personal testimonies of nurses and abortion survivors themselves, indicate that babies do sometimes survive abortions.

According to the CDC, at least 143 babies were born alive after botched abortions between 2003 and 2014, though there may be more. Research by the American Center for Law and Justice estimated the number was 362 between 2001 and 2010.

At the federal level, pro-abortion Democrats in the U.S. House have blocked a national bill to protect infants who survive abortions 48 times this spring.

A similar bill narrowly failed in the U.S. Senate earlier this year. Every single Democrat in the Senate who is running for president voted against the bill, which would stop infanticide and provide medical care and treatment for babies who are born alive after botched abortions. That includes Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Amy Klobuchar.

Some states never have passed laws to protect abortion survivors, while at least one other, New York, recently repealed its law requiring medical care for infants who survive abortions.

The legislation is important even though Alabama passed another law earlier this month that bans all abortions, except when necessary to save the mother’s life. Abortion activists plan to sue to overturn the law, and courts are expected to block the state from enforcing it. Pro-life advocates hope the U.S. Supreme Court eventually will uphold the law, but the legal process is long, and it could be years until the high court even agrees to hear the case.