Alabama Gov Kay Ivey Signs Bill to Stop Infanticide, Protect Babies Born Alive After Botched Abortions

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 25, 2021   |   8:42PM   |   Montgomerty, Alabama

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has signed a pro-life bill to stop infanticide that would require appropriate medical care and treatment for babies who survive abortions. The new legislation was inspired by a woman named Gianna Jessen who survived an abortion attempt on her life.

Gianna’s Law (House Bill 237) passed by a strong majority in a 76-12 vote earlier this month and the Senate followed suit with its own approval.

Today, Governor Ivey signed it into law.

The bill says that if an infant is born alive after an attempted abortion, the doctor “shall 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 physician would render to any other child born alive at any other location in this state at the same gestational age.”

“Alabama supports the right to life,” Ivey said in a press release. “I appreciate Rep. Shaver’s work on this critical bill, and I’m proud to sign this into law and cement our commitment to the unborn.”

Sponsored by state Rep. Ginny Shaver, R-Gadsden, the bill would require a physician to provide the same degree of medical care to preserve the life of a baby who is born alive after an abortion as they would to any other baby born at the same gestational age. Doctors who fail to do so could be charged with a class A felony.

Shaver said she was inspired by Jessen’s survival story, and she wants to ensure that every baby who survives an abortion receives basic medical care.

“What the bill says is if a child is born alive following an abortion or attempted abortion in an abortion or reproductive health center, the physician who performed the abortion or attempted the abortion … shall exercise the same degree of professional skill, care and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child,” she said.

Some Democrats and pro-abortion groups pushed back against the bill. According to the report, state Rep. Neil Rafferty, D-Birmingham, argued that the legislation is unnecessary because laws already criminalize killing infants.

Shaver responded that Gianna’s Law would prohibit infanticide by neglect in addition to the current laws that criminalize killing a newborn. A pro-life pregnancy resource center volunteer, she said she was told about a doctor who neglected an infant who had survived an abortion and the baby died, the report states.

“This is not about abortion. This is about a baby’s right to life,” Shaver said.

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Other opponents argued that the law would not make any difference because Alabama prohibits abortions after 22 weeks. The AP reports: “According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, babies born before 23 weeks of pregnancy usually do not survive with very rare exceptions.”

But survival rates for babies born at 21 and 22 weeks of pregnancy are increasing, so much so that the British Association of Medicine recently issued new guidelines encouraging medical treatment for babies born at 22 weeks of pregnancy. Previously, the guidelines did not recommend treatment until 24 weeks.

The University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital also reports high survival rates for babies born as early as 22 weeks of pregnancy. In a recent article in the “Journal of Pediatrics,” doctors at the hospital reported a 70-percent survival rate for babies born at 22 weeks at the hospital over a 10-year period. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine also found that more premature infants are surviving at 22 weeks of pregnancy.

Alabama lawmakers banned all abortions in their state in 2019, but federal courts struck down the law as unconstitutional.

Shaver’s bill now moves to the state Senate for consideration. Her bill and others like it address the disturbing reality that sometimes babies who were supposed to be killed in their mothers’ wombs survive.

Kentucky and South Dakota passed similar laws earlier this year.

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.

National polling shows Americans — including people who are “pro-choice” on abortion — oppose abortions up to birth and infanticide.