By Jennifer Popik, JD, Federal Legislative Director
Washington, D.C.– House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.), and Pro-Life Caucus Chair Chris Smith (R-N.J.) hosted a hearing yesterday examining H.R. 962, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act and how it is designed to protect innocent human life left vulnerable following an attempted abortion.
Democrat leadership has, for months, repeatedly refused to allow a vote on this measure, and had denied Republicans the opportunity to even hold a hearing on the legislation. Republicans instead held a minority hearing, with over 43 members of Congress in attendance as well as a standing-room only audience.
Four witnesses testified for the need for this legislation. H.R. 962 simply provides that born-alive abortion survivors would be afforded the care given to a baby spontaneously born at the same gestation age. No more, but no less.
The witnesses included moving testimony from Jill Stanek, RN, a nurse who in 1999 discovered a baby with Down syndrome born alive after a late-term abortion who was left in a dirty utility room to die; Dr. Robin Pierucci, MD, neonatologist and medical director of a 50-bed neonatal intensive care unit; Dr. Kathi Aultman, M.D., a retired Ob/Gyn and former abortion provider, and Tessa Longbons, an abortion statistics researcher.
At the conclusion of the robust and informative hearing, Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO) fought back tears at the end of her statement remarking,
This concludes our business for this minute. The very next minute we need everyone across this country to demand that House leadership bring H.R. 962, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Act, to the floor, as we did in the 115th Congress, to reaffirm life. Now, I live for the day when abortion is not just illegal, but unthinkable and what is happening to these babies that are born, because they’re not wanted is unconscionable in this country and anywhere, so I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Introduced by Rep. Wagner on February 5, 2019, H.R. 962 would provide a standard of care that currently does not exist in federal law. The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act would require that any health care practitioner provide the same degree of professional care that they would to any child born alive at the same gestational age.
Republicans have also filed a discharge petition designed to force the legislation to the floor of the house for a vote. Currently, there are 201 signatures, but seventeen more signatures are needed.
In 2002 Congress enacted the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act. This legislation said that babies who are born alive, whether before or after “viability,” are recognized as full legal persons for all federal law purposes.
The law was enacted in response to troubling indications that some abortion providers and pro-abortion activists did not regard infants born alive during abortion procedures as legal persons – especially if the infants were deemed to be “pre-viable.”
The Born-Alive Infants Protection Act became law without even one single dissenting vote. Not one.
Unfortunately, in the time between 2002 and 2019, the landscape has entirely changed.
In the years since, evidences have multiplied that in spite of the clear language of the statute, some abortion providers, do not regard babies born alive during abortions as persons, and that they do not provide them with the types of care that would be provided to premature infants who are born spontaneously.
Even with incomplete information, we know that there are numerous instances of babies born alive during abortions.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that between 2003 and 2014, at least 143 babies died after being born alive during abortions. The number is likely far higher due to the fact that the CDC relies on state health departments which vary in their thoroughness. Additionally, California, the nation’s most populous state, along with Maryland and New Hampshire has not reported any abortion figures to the CDC since 1998.
Only five states independently report cases of infants born alive (Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, and Oklahoma). Even in that small sample, at least 25 children were born alive during attempted abortions in 2017.
The attitude that babies born alive during an attempted abortion do not merit equal medical treatment is manifested in such recently-passed legislation as New York’s so-called “Reproductive Health Act.” Among other provisions, the law repealed state-level protections for infants born alive during an attempted abortion.
Several other states have proposed and/or passed similar legislation.
In the wake of this controversy, although pro-abortion Democrats controlled the U.S. House, Republicans sprang into action by proposing the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.
The legislation would enact 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. But Democrats do not want to have to vote and no committees have taken up the bill, until the Republicans held their own hearing.
You can find the recording of the entire Hearing here.
All of the hearing documents and information including the hearing memo, witness testimonies, full recording statements for the record, born-alive abortion survivor statements, and the discharge petition tracker are available here.