A South Dakota House committee advanced legislation Tuesday to protect newborn babies who survive abortions from infanticide.
Sponsored by state Rep. Fred Deutsch, R-Brookings, state House Bill 1051 would require that the same basic medical care be provided to a baby who survives an abortion that would be provided to any other baby born at the same gestational age. Doctors who do not could face huge fines and the loss of their medical license.
The pro-life bill passed the state House Health and Human Services Committee in a 10-3 vote and now moves to the full House for debate.
The Argus Leader reports Deutsch emphasized that the bill is important not only to save lives but also to understand how many babies do survive abortions.
“How do we know it doesn’t happen if we don’t track the data?” he said.
Lawmakers also listened to the testimony of Melissa Ohden, who survived an abortion in 1977, according to the report. Ohden said only eight states keep track of babies who survive abortions. Five of the eight states reported 108 abortion survivors over a 12-year period, she said.
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“We need to have public reporting of failed abortions and abortion survivors required across the U.S.,” she wrote on Facebook after the hearing. “As I’ve said many times, don’t tell me it’s not a problem if you’re not even attempting to track it.”
But some did argue that there is no point to the legislation.
According to the report:
Dean Krogman, a longtime lobbyist and a former lawmaker, said the bill was meaningless because abortions are already illegal after 13 and a half weeks in South Dakota. Rep. Fred Deutsch, the bill’s sponsor, conceded fetuses born alive at 13 and a half weeks are not viable.
“I wasn’t going to testify, but it’s getting ridiculous,” Krogman, who was representing the South Dakota State Medical Association, told lawmakers on the House Health and Human Services Committee.
This is not entirely accurate. Abortions are legal up to 20 weeks in South Dakota; the Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade prohibits states from banning abortions prior to viability. The 13-and-a-half-week number likely refers to the latest that abortions are done at the only abortion facility in the state, a Planned Parenthood.
However, there is nothing prohibiting an abortion facility from doing abortions up to 20 weeks in South Dakota. Deutsch’s bill would make sure that, if late-term abortions start happening in the state, protections would be in place for babies who survive.
Kentucky just passed a similar bill, the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, earlier this month. It became law Friday, ensuring that babies who survive abortions in the state will receive the basic medical care that they deserve.
Babies do survive abortions, though no one is sure exactly how many.
Between 2016 and 2018, three states reported 40 babies were born alive after abortions. According to the state health data, 11 babies were born alive in Minnesota, 10 in Arizona and 19 in Florida. Texas reported six babies were born alive in botched abortions in 2019. In Michigan, state health reports from 2008 through 2013 indicate that 11 babies were born alive during abortions.
Reports from other countries prove that babies survive abortions, too, and legal protections for them are needed. In Canada, the Canadian Institute of Health Information recorded 766 late-term, live-birth abortions over a five-year period in 2018. And in Australia, the country’s health minister admitted that 27 babies survived abortions in the state of Western Australia between 1999 and 2016. A report out of Ireland in the fall also suggests babies are surviving abortions and being left to die there.