In the last three months, abortion has once again become a very hot topic. It all started on January 22, 2019, the 46th anniversary of the infamous U.S. Supreme Court decisions Roe vs. Wade and Doe vs. Bolton. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo generated lots of publicity when he lit up NY landmarks after signing the “Reproductive Health Act.” The new law removes abortion and the intentional murder of a baby in the womb from the state’s criminal code. It also allows doctors, nurse practitioners, and even midwives to perform abortions all the way up to the moment of birth, provided the mother’s “life or health” is at risk. The “life or health” exception includes all factors, such as physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and maternal age, as valid reasons for an abortion, regardless of gestational age of the baby.
Before the week was over, while Americans were still reeling from the reality that abortion is legal during all nine months of pregnancy in New York, Virginia lawmakers picked up the abortion baton and took things a step further as Kathy Tran, a Democratic Virginia House Delegate introduced HB 2491. During a committee hearing on the bill, she confirmed that the bill would allow abortions up to birth. VA Governor Ralph Northam later explained Tran’s comment during a radio interview, expressing support for the bill. Here is what he said:
“When we talk about third-trimester abortions, these are done with the consent of obviously the mother, with the consent of the physician — more than one physician, by the way — and it’s done in cases where there may be severe deformities. There may be a fetus that’s non-viable.
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.”
While the reality that an abortion can be performed up through the birth of a child shocked people, Gov. Northam’s explanation introduced a secondary factor most Americans never considered – that a late-term abortion could fail, resulting in the baby being born alive, able to take in air and cry out. This truth led to the question of what happens to a baby that survives an abortion procedure?
His answer – that the decision to provide the child with medical care or leave it to die was up to the mother and the abortion doctor – freaked people out, as this morphs abortion into infanticide.
I think abortion proponents were caught off-guard when this dirty secret of the abortion industry came out – because the reality is that babies often survive abortions and are left to die.
Arina O. Grossu, Family Research Council’s Director for the Center for Human Dignity, gave testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, on the topic of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act on September 23, 2016. She stated:
In 2000 and 2001, Jill Stanek testified before this Committee about her experience as a registered nurse, where she discovered babies born alive after an attempted abortion and left to die in the department’s soiled utility closet.
In 2002, Congress responded by passing the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which was signed by President George W. Bush and is current federal law. It passed by voice vote in the House and with unanimous consent in the Senate.
Unfortunately, incidents involving born alive children being killed after an attempted abortion have continued after this law was passed and into the present…Up to 2010, abortionist Kermit Gosnell operated his dirty and dangerous abortion facility where he did “hundreds of snippings” of born-alive babies as part of his abortion process. The Grand Jury Report noted: Many of [the women] gave birth before he even got there. When you perform late-term ‘abortions’ by inducing labor, you get babies. Live, breathing, squirming babies…Gosnell had a simple solution for the unwanted babies he delivered: he killed them… by sticking scissors into the back of the baby’s neck and cutting the spinal cord.
While Gosnell’s case was particularly gruesome, he is not an outlier. A former employee of current Texas abortionist Douglas Karpen described how he regularly killed babies born alive by snipping their spinal cords, fatally injuring them with blows to the soft spot on their heads, and twisting their necks.…
Data that the CDC collects also confirms babies are born alive after attempted abortions. Between the years 2003 and 2014 there were somewhere between 376 and 588 death of infants under the medical code P96.4 which keeps track of babies born alive after a “termination of pregnancy.”
The CDC concluded that of the 588 babies, 143 were “definitively” born alive after an attempted abortion and they lived from minutes to one or more days, with 48% of the babies living between one to four hours.
We know it is an underestimate because these are just reported numbers from hospitals, not abortion facilities. Gosnell is only one abortionist who was responsible for “hundreds of snippings” of born-alive babies, yet he did not report even one. His numbers alone exceed the “definitive” numbers of the CDC.
Even one baby born alive after an attempted abortion who is then killed is one too many. But we are talking in the hundreds of reported ones.
Yet not one person to date has been charged or convicted under current the Born-Alive law.
Due to developments in technology, babies who are considered “extremely preterm” can now survive outside the womb as early as 20 and 21 weeks post-fertilization, recent science journals announced, with 67% surviving after receiving active care….
We need the proposed Born-Alive Survivors act to ensure that babies born alive after an attempted abortion are given the proper medical treatment. The bill:
- Explicitly requires health care practitioners to treat born-alive abortion survivors with the same care they would treat any other born baby and admit such babies immediately to a hospital.
- Provides enforcement mechanisms such as criminal sanctions and penalties to hold abortionists accountable for killing born-alive infants
- Also expressly excludes any prosecution of the mother of a baby born alive, and it gives her a private right of action to seek relief if an abortionist were to kill her born-alive infant.
Sadly, Arina’s testimony did not persuade Congress to pass the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act in 2016. However, after Gov. Northam’s remarks and additional states passing late-term abortion laws, both the US Senate and House of Representatives re-introduced similar bills. At the end of February, the Senate voted 53-44 against allowing a debate and vote on the bill itself.
According to LifeNews.com, every Democrat senator running for president at the time the vote was taken — Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Bernie Sanders — voted to block the anti-infanticide bill.
During the debate, several Democrats misled the Senate about the bill and falsely claimed the measure would ban abortions or ban late-term abortions. Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska grew increasingly frustrated as the debate went on about the false claims abortion advocates made about the anti-infanticide legislation.
“I know a lot of opponents of this bill sincerely believe the talking points that they read from their staffs. We’ve heard speech after speech after speech that have nothing to do with what’s actually in this bill,” he said. “I urge my colleagues to picture a baby that’s already been born, that’s outside the womb gasping for air. That’s the only thing that today’s vote is actually about. We’re talking about babies that have already been born. Nothing in this bill touches abortion access.”
H.R. 962, the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, is the House of Representatives version of the Senate bill, and as of April 30th, 2019 House Democrats refused a vote on the bill for the 34th time. They read the same statement they have read the previous 33 occasions, which claims there is no bipartisan agreement to bring the bill up for a vote. Despite the claim, Republican leaders have repeatedly asked Speaker Pelosi and top Democrats to reach an agreement for the bill to receive a vote.
This stalemate has led to House Republican Whip Steve Scalise and Representative Ann Wagner to file a ‘discharge petition.’ That’s a petition any member of Congress can sign to allow legislation to move out of committee and to the House floor when the party controlling Congress refuses to allow a vote on it.
The fact that we need laws to require appropriate medical care be given to any child who survives an abortion speaks volumes of how depraved our abortion culture has become. The fact that we cannot get enough votes from our elected officials regardless of political affiliation to legislate humane treatment for our most vulnerable members of society leaves me in tears.
Anglicans for Life rarely promotes political activism, as our mission is to help the Anglican Church be a witness for life both pastorally and practically – but this issue demands that those in the Church recognize our civic responsibility to our fellow citizens, especially those who survive an abortion.
Please visit this website and check to see if your congressman’s name is listed – if it isn’t, please make an appointment with him or her and ask them to explain why they haven’t signed the discharge petition. If they have signed it – thank them. Maybe those who haven’t signed it need to be reminded that the bill doesn’t impact the legal status of abortion – it just provides care to babies who beat the odds of surviving a procedure intended to end their life. It seems to me that they deserve to live if they do!
By the way, while abortion proponents deny the reality of babies being born alive during an abortion and surviving, there is a growing list of people who, by their very lives, bear witness to the fact that it happens. Sarah Zagorski shared her testimony this past January at our annual Anglican Prayer Service, held the morning of the March for Life, and the Abortion Survivor Network features many others. For the last three months they have been sharing their stories with anyone who will listen. I encourage you to introduce them to the politicians in your community who are voting against protecting them.
While I hate wading into politics, I hate even more that providing medical care to infants, born alive during an abortion procedure, has become a political issue. Shame on us as a culture and a nation for even fighting over it. If as a nation we cannot ensure care for our youngest and most vulnerable citizens, we either need to re-think our political system or our voting priorities. Which will it be, and who else might be denied care before we decide?
Written by AFL President Deacon Georgette Forney. This article was most recently featured in the May 2019 edition of the Carpe Diem newsletter.