West Virginia Legislature Passes Bill to Stop Infanticide, Care for Babies Born Alive After Abortions

State   |   Steven Ertelt, Micaiah Bilger   |   Feb 19, 2020   |   7:45PM   |   Charleston, WV

A bill to protect babies who survive abortions from infanticide is very close to becoming law in West Virginia now that the West Virginia legislature has given its final approval on it and Republican Gov. Jim Justice will sign it into law soon.

The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (HB 4007/SB 231) has passed every test and now awaits the signature of Governor Jim Justice, who has said he will sign it. The bill had undergone a change in wording in the Senate after passing in the House. The vote to concur in the House by a 92-6 vote on February 18, saw the wording changed from “fetus” to “child.” This would be the final verbiage as the Senate concurred with that House version by a unanimous 33-0 vote. Only pro-abortion Senator Bob Beach was absent.

The Senate voted 32-0 in favor of the bill on February 10, 2020. The Born-Alive Bill’s overwhelming House passage by a 93-5 margin on January 15 was bipartisan as well.

The Born-Alive Bill will enact requirements 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; and mandatory reporting of violations. It also makes it possible, for the first time, to investigate and prosecute these cases because West Virginia law will define the actions required by the abortionist in the case of a born-alive survivor of abortion along with the penalties for failure to comply with the law.

West Virginians for Life president Wanda Franz told LifeNews.com she’s delighted the bill will become law.

“West Virginians for Life thanks the legislators and leadership in our state Capitol for passing the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. This new law puts teeth in our state legal system to make it possible to report and prosecute these cases. The people of West Virginia want these infants to be protected by West Virginia law,” Franz said.

The legislation requires abortionists to provide reasonable medical care to a baby who survives an abortion. According to the bill, physicians must “exercise the same degree of reasonable medical judgment to preserve the life and health of the child as a physician would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age; and to ensure that the child born alive is immediately transported and admitted to a hospital.”

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While celebrating the victory for babies in West Virginia, pro-life advocates also lamented that U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congressional Democrats have not been cooperative with similar federal legislation. In 2019, Pelosi blocked the federal Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act more than 80 times.

Though babies’ survivals have been called “imaginary” and protections for them unnecessary, state health data indicates that at least 40 babies were born alive after botched abortions in just three states between 2016 and 2018. According to the state health data, 11 babies were born alive after botched abortions in Minnesota, 10 in Arizona and 19 in Florida.

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, as well as the personal testimonies of nurses and abortion survivors themselves, also provide evidence that babies survive abortions. According to the CDC, at least 143 babies were born alive after botched abortions between 2003 and 2014 in the U.S., though there likely are more.

Research by the American Center for Law and Justice estimated the number is much higher, at least 362 between 2001 and 2010.

Despite the strong need for protections for babies who survive abortions, Democrats in the U.S. House and Senate blocked a federal Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act almost 100 times in 2019.

Currently, about 18 states do not have laws to protect abortion survivors from infanticide. Some states never have passed laws to protect abortion survivors, while at least two others, New York and Illinois, repealed their laws requiring medical care for infants who survive abortions.

In 2019, Texas passed a law strengthening protections for infants who survive abortions. The state legislatures in Montana, North Carolina and Wisconsin did as well; however, their Democratic governors vetoed the legislation. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers argued that the legislation was “not a productive use of time.”