By Mary Anne Buchanan
Wednesday, January 15, marked a huge victory for the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (HB 4007) as it passed in the House of Delegates with bipartisan support. The final tally was 93-5 as the lights lit up on the West Virginia House chamber voting board.
The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act 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. The measure does not dictate bona fide medical judgments nor require futile measures. HB 4007, rather, requires that babies born alive during abortions are treated in the same manner as those who are spontaneously born prematurely. It also calls for discipline and potential loss of license by the WV Board of Medicine. In addition the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act provides a civil cause of action to women who are harmed by violations of the Act.
Fourteen delegates stood and made their final arguments – nine spoke for it, among them Delegates Tom Bibby, Tom Fast, Jordan Hill, Joe Jeffries, “Buck” Jennings, Kayla Kessinger, Ralph Rodighiero, Lead Sponsor Ruth Rowan, and Marshall Wilson. Their arguments mainly addressed the concern that without such explicit projection, West Virginia could become another New York or Virginia in regard to infanticide.
According to West Virginia Public Radio
Tom Fast (R-Fayette), argued that the measure was necessary to protect life. He painted the picture of a situation a doctor might face should a fetus be delivered alive following an unsuccessful abortion procedure.
“When you have a live baby that was just born — regardless of what the intent was moments prior, but when you have that live baby laying on the table — what you don’t do is have a doctor say well we’ll just have a discussion with a mother and see what to do,” Fast said. “That’s what you don’t do. You help that child, you work with that child. You give that child medical care, just like if it were your daughter or your son laying on that table. You give that child that person do medical care. That’s what this bill does.
Voting nay were Delegates Sammi Brown, Barbara Fleischauer, Evan Hansen, Rodney Pyles, and Danielle Walker.
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.
West Virginia’s Born-Alive bill is now in the Senate.