Setting the Record Straight on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act: Claims and Responses

Blog Articles · Mar 21, 2019 · Healthcare

The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (H.R. 962) is non-controversial legislation that would require that appropriate medical care be given to any infant who survived an attempted abortion and that the infant be transported and admitted to a hospital. Health care practitioners who violate these requirements would be subject to criminal penalties.

Below are some of the common claims on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, and responses:

Claim: Infants are never born alive after abortions.

Response: Despite inadequate federal abortion reporting statistics, there are official recorded instances of infants being born-alive after attempted abortions. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), between 2003 and 2014, there were at least 143 babies born alive after a failed abortion procedure across the United States. The CDC also notes that this number is likely underestimated because of unclear terminology and a lack of understanding about spontaneous abortions.

In addition to the CDC’s findings, several states report that babies are born alive after botched abortions. In 2017, Florida reported that 11 infants were born alive following an abortion, and six were born alive in 2018. Arizona reported that 10 fetuses or embryos were born alive after an abortion in 2017 and Minnesota reported that three babies were born alive following an abortion in 2017.

As Heritage Foundation Research Associate Melanie Israel says, “This problem is not hypothetical: It is a matter of public record, both in the United States and abroad, that babies are born alive following attempted abortions.”

Claim: Infanticide is already illegal. The Born-Alive Infant Survivors Protect Act of 2002 already protects infants born alive after a failed abortion.

Response: Current law does not adequately protect infants born alive after a failed abortion. Although President George W. Bush signed the Born-Alive Infant Survivors Protection Act into law in 2002, which recognized that all babies born alive are “persons," the law does not provide adequate protections for these babies or establish specific requirements of care on practitioners. The Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act of 2019 would require that health care practitioners “exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of a child” born alive following an abortion as the practitioner “would render to any other child born alive” and establishes criminal penalties (fines and/or imprisonment) for failure to comply.

Claim: The fact that Dr. Kermit Gosnell is spending life in prison without possibility of parole for three first-degree murder convictions illustrates this bill is unnecessary.

Response: Dr. Gosnell is in prison for actively committing murder (snipping spinal cords, etc). The Born Alive legislation is necessary because it is meant to address the “passive” act of simply denying care to a baby born alive after a botched abortion.

Claim: Many state laws already protect babies born alive.

Response: While roughly half of states currently provide some protection for these babies under state law, many do not - particularly states with very permissive abortion laws and a high incidence of abortion, such as California and New York. While these state laws are important, it is also vital that Congress take action to ensure the protection of these babies born alive in failed abortions, as well.

Claim: In some situations, an infant faces a low likelihood of survival due to a medical condition or because they were born incredibly early. The Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act would prohibit a family from providing comfort care to their baby, and would instead require the doctor to perform drastic life saving measures such as intubation, compressions, and invasive procedures, all for an infant that is highly unlikely to survive.

Response: The goal of the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act is to ensure that health care practitioners provide the same degree of care to an infant born alive after a failed abortion that they would provide to any other newborn baby. The level of care should not change depending on whether or not the infant is wanted. The legislation does not prescribe a specific type of medical intervention for every possible scenario. It simply ensures that a child—regardless of whether he or she was “wanted” or not - receives proper, situationally appropriate medical care.

Claim: The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act threatens women’s health by restricting access to reproductive health care and making it harder for a woman to get an abortion.

Response: Saving the life of an infant born alive following an abortion procedure has nothing to do with “women’s health.” Nothing in the Born-Alive bill touches abortion access, sets any limits on a woman’s right to obtain an abortion, or threatens Roe v. Wade. It simply requires that a health care practitioner do everything in their power to save the life of an infant born alive following an abortion.

Claim: The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act could prosecute the mother of a child born alive.

Response: The bill explicitly states that the mother of a child born alive may not be prosecuted.

Claim: The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act is just a Republican-coordinated strategy for 2020 to paint Democrats as radical on abortion.

Response: Republicans do not need any type of coordinated strategy to “paint Democrats as radical on abortion” because many Democrats are radical on abortion. Recall Democratic Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s recent comments saying that it would be acceptable to kill an innocent baby after birth if it is what the mother wanted. According to Gov. Northam:

If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired. And then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.

In addition to Governor Northam’s comments, several states have recently passed or proposed laws to legalize abortion up until birth. Under the guise of “protecting women’s health,” Democrats have proudly pledged their support for killing innocent babies at all stages of pregnancy and eliminating protections for those who have already been born.

Moderate Democrats have an opportunity to set themselves apart from the more radical Members of their party by signing the discharge petition for the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.

Claim: The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act intimidates health care practitioners from performing abortions for fear of legal consequences.

Response: The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act should not make health care practitioners fearful of performing abortions. In the event that an infant is born alive after an abortion, this legislation simply requires the health care practitioner to “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 health care practitioner would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age” and to ensure that the child born alive is immediately transported and admitted to a hospital.

As long as a health care practitioner takes the necessary precautions listed above, he/she does not need to fear legal consequences.