House to vote on Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Act the week of March for Life

By Dave Andrusko

On Tuesday House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca.) announced the first great national pro-life news of 2018. “Next week—the week of the annual March for Life when tens of thousands of Americans come to Washington to give voice to the voiceless unborn—the House will vote on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Act,” he said in a statement. The chief House sponsor of H.R. 4712 is Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tn.)

Majority Leader McCarthy explained the commonsense humanity behind H.R. 4712.

“This bill states simply that if a baby is born after a failed abortion attempt, he or she should be given the same medical care as a baby born any other way. In line with our longstanding commitment to empower women, mothers will never be held criminally accountable. However, doctors who fail to provide medical care to newborns will be held criminally accountable. There is absolutely no ambiguity here. This is about protecting babies who are born and alive, and nobody should be against that.”

National Right to Life congratulated McCarthy for his leadership on H.R. 4712.

“We are grateful to Leader McCarthy for scheduling a vote on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act next week when a massive number of pro-lifers will come to DC for the March for Life,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. “NRLC believes that it is time for Congress to act decisively to put the entire abortion industry on notice that when they treat a born-alive human person as medical waste, as a source for organ harvesting, or as a creature who may be subjected to lethal violence with impunity, they will do so at grave legal peril.”

The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Act would strengthen enforcement of existing law, such as the 2002 Born-Alive Infants Protection Act.

In 2002, Congress approved, without a dissenting vote, the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act (BAIPA), subsequently signed into law by President George W. Bush and codified as 1 U.S.C. §8. This important law states that “every infant member of the species homo sapiens who is born alive at any stage of development” is a “person” for all federal law purposes.

The 2002 BAIPA was a response to troubling indications, well summarized in the House Judiciary Committee’s excellent 2001 report on the legislation, 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” (i.e., have limited life expectancy due to prematurity). Such a mindset puts a substantial number of live-born infant persons in jeopardy of gross neglect or overt violence. Live birth, as defined in 1 U.S.C. §8, may occur a month before “viability.” BAIPA made it crystal clear that life expectancy is entirely irrelevant for purposes of legal personhood.

Since that time, there have been many additional troubling reports.

Lauretta Brown, writing at Townhall, observed that in their final report in January 2017, The House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives found that abortionists could be using techniques that resulted in infants being born alive. The Panel wrote, Brown reported, that

according to documents obtained in their investigation, many researchers want tissue from late-gestation infants “untainted by feticidal agents.”

Brown went on to add

They concluded in their report that “abortion providers may modify abortion procedures, in apparent violation of the law, to increase the odds of getting an intact infant cadaver (e.g., increase the number of laminaria placed in a patient’s cervix to achieve greater dilation). Clearly, these factors increase the likelihood that unborn infants are born alive during late second-trimester abortions, and raise the question whether these infants’ civil rights are recognized by abortion providers.”

In his statement, Majority Leader McCarthy put the pending introduction of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Act in the wider context of Republican House efforts on behalf of life.

“Under Republican leadership, this House has consistently stood for life, ”McCarthy said. “ Last year, the House passed—among many other pro-life bills—the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which banned abortion at 20 weeks when science shows babies can feel pain.

“Unfortunately, almost all of our Democrat colleagues voted against that bill. Their votes were an attempt to ensure America remains one of only seven countries that allows radical late-term abortions.”

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