Why We Need the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act

Steven Mosher
by Jonathan Abbamonte
January 26, 2018
Reproduced with Permission
Population Research Institute

WARNING: This article contains graphic testimonies and descriptions

The Final Report of the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives in 2016 revealed many shocking details about the abortion industry in America. Among them, the testimony of an alleged eye-witness of the practice of a late-term abortionist in Houston, Texas (referred to as "[Abortion Doctor #3]").

The witness, an employee who assisted [Abortion Doctor #3] with procuring abortions at one of his clinics, testified before the Select Panel that [Abortion Doctor #3] had routinely committed infanticide in his abortion practice, stating:

[D]uring a typical week with a full patient load…[Abortion Doctor #3] would perform abortions at 20 or more weeks gestation…on approximately 40 patients…[a]pproximately three or four infants would show signs of life…[o]f the three to four infants terminated in a typical week by [Abortion Doctor #3] while showing signs of life, on average, approximately one or two would be put to death after they had left the birth canal entirely. According to the witness, [Abortion Doctor #3] would terminate infants born alive in a variety of ways including snipping their spinal cords, cutting their necks with forceps, twisting their heads, or pushing his index finger through the soft spot of the infant's head.

According to the witness, [Abortion Doctor #3] would terminate infants born alive in a variety of ways including snipping their spinal cords, cutting their necks with forceps, twisting their heads, or pushing his index finger through the soft spot of the infant's head.

The alleged murders by [Abortion Doctor #3], however, are not isolated cases of infanticide of born alive abortion survivors. In 2013, convicted killer and abortionist Kermit Gosnell was famously sentenced to life in prison without parole for murdering infants by 'snipping' their spinal cords after they were born alive.

One of the infants Gosnell was convicted of having 'snipped' was viable at 28 weeks gestation, another was believed to be at 32 weeks. The report of the grand jury in the Gosnell case recounted an alleged case where the infant was even crying:

Ashley heard the infant cry. She saw the baby move while it was on the counter. She estimated the infant was at least 12 inches long. When Gosnell arrived at the clinic, she recalled, "he snipped the neck, and said there is nothing to worry about, and he suctioned it." 'Snippings' were allegedly "standard procedure" at Gosnell's clinic. The grand jury's report claims that "over the years, there were hundreds of "snippings.""

'Snippings' were allegedly "standard procedure" at Gosnell's clinic. The grand jury's report claims that "over the years, there were hundreds of "snippings.""

It is difficult to believe that horrors such as these are happening in the United States today. But they are. Post-abortive infanticide has long been a dark secret of the abortion industry.

For decades, infants born alive following an abortion have been left to die under towels, in hospital bedpan or linen closets, or on clinic counters. No emergency or resuscitation interventions are provided, no ambulance is called. Preterm infants are not provided urgent care that would otherwise be provided to any other preterm infant. Rather, they are denied necessary lifesaving care, or, in the case of [Abortion Doctor #3], are even proactively killed.

Over the years, numerous cases have come to light such as when Jill Stanek, a registered nurse later turned pro-life activist, shocked the country in 2001 when she revealed her personal experience cradling an infant for 45 minutes after it was born alive following an "induced labor abortion." Hospital staff would have otherwise left the infant to die in a soiled utility room.

Infanticidal neglect had long been a tool of the abortion industry even prior to Stanek's exposé. A 1981 article in the Philadelphia Inquirer titled "Abortion: The Dreaded Complication" detailed the horrors of post-abortive infanticide. In the piece, it was recounted how a certain Dr. Ronald Bolognese publicly and openly revealed in a 1974 letter in the International Correspondence Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists how he dealt with post-abortive infants born alive at his hospital:

At the time of delivery, it has been our policy to wrap the fetus in a towel…our attention is turned to the care of [the woman]…once we are sure her condition is stable, the fetus is evaluated. Almost invariably all signs of life have ceased. Bolognese later walked back his comments several years later, claiming that the protocol was no longer in effect.

Bolognese later walked back his comments several years later, claiming that the protocol was no longer in effect.

Due to scant reporting of infants born displaying signs of life following an abortion, it is difficult to estimate the extent of the problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 2003 - 2014, 143 infant deaths have been definitively classified as deaths due to induced abortion. That is to say, at least 143 infants died after they were born alive following abortion, whether due to injuries sustained as a result of the abortion attempt, due to active neglect or denial of care of injured or preterm infants or some combination of both.

But these are just the reported cases. According to the CDC's same report, the actual number of born alive post-abortive infants could be even higher.

Indeed, it is believed that abortionists often fail to report cases of post - abortive infanticide. In the aforementioned Philadelphia Inquirer article, it was revealed how the medical community often actively covers-up, rather than reports, instances of infanticide in order to avoid prosecution.

"Organized medicine, from fear of public clamor and legal action, treats them [post-abortive born alive infants] more as an embarrassment to be hushed up than a problem to be solved," the article read, "Late abortions take place "behind a white curtain"…well sheltered from public view."

According to that same article, back in the days when saline abortion and other intrauterine instillation methods were much more common than they are today, an untold number of infants were born alive following abortion attempts. "For every case that does become known, probably a hundred go unreported," the article read.

Because infants were too often born alive in years past, most abortionists now prefer methods that ensure fetal demise prior to delivery. As a result, the vast majority of abortions today beyond 20 weeks are brutal surgical procedures like dilation and curettage (D&C), which dismember the unborn child alive, or dilation and evacuation (D&E), where the child's internal organs are suctioned out and the skull often crushed before delivery.

But according to CDC data , more than 500 non - surgical abortions (i.e. prostaglandin, intrauterine instillation, etc.) were performed in 2014 alone after the 20-week mark. And that figure only includes the 36 states that report such data to the CDC, not including abortion-heavy states like California and New York.

It is uncertain how many post-abortive infants are born alive today. And due to the secrecy around post-abortive infanticide and the refusal of many abortionists to report cases, it is difficult to know the full extent of this tragedy. However, as the testimony of several abortion clinic employees before the Select Panel revealed, there are, without doubt, cases where infants in late term abortions are born alive.

A doctor and faculty member at the University of New Mexico (UNM) who testified before the Select Panel consented "There are situations in the [University] hospital where a planned abortion, an induction of labor for a fetus, for example, with severe anomalies is born alive."

Asked if UNM fellows working at a local abortion clinic were provided with training for the resuscitation of infants born alive, the witness replied point blank "OB/GYN doctors do not resuscitate neonates."

The possibility of resuscitating infants born alive is also not something that many abortionists plan for nor is it something many of them seem to be concerned about. When the Select Panel asked the UNM witness who would, in lieu of the OB/GYNs, then provide the resuscitation of infants that are born alive, the witness replied, "I don't know."

"[O]ur affiliates don't provide obstetrical care," a California abortion provider and Planned Parenthood executive told the Select Panel, "So therefore, they do not know how to manage a term or preterm infant," Asked if a protocol was in place to call an ambulance in the event of an infant born alive, the Planned Parenthood employee told the Panel "there's no protocol for this. I'm not going to sit here and write a protocol."

Although federal law prohibits the killing of a viable infant born alive, rarely are doctors ever investigated, prosecuted or held accountable for post-abortive infanticide.

In attempts to rectify this, in 2002, President George W. Bush signed into law the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act, recognizing that any fetus born alive is entitled to full protection under the law. In a rare show of bipartisanship, the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act passed the House by a voice vote and passed with unanimous consent in the Senate (98 - 0), garnering support from even Senate pro-abortion stalwarts.

Yet more than a decade later, instances of post-abortive infanticide are still all too common. Some pro-life advocates believe that cases continue because the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act lacked specific penalties and lacked any enforcement mechanism. It has become clear from the Select Panel investigation that many abortionists are entirely unfamiliar with when the law recognizes that human life begins and are unclear about the legal consequences for committing post abortive infanticide.

As a result, the House on January 19th passed the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (H.R. 4712) , a bill that would create criminal sanctions for abortionists that refuse to provide medical attention to infants born alive following an abortion.

H.R. 4712 would require that any child born alive be given the same medical attention as any other child born at the same gestational age and that they be transported immediately to a hospital. Any doctor that attempts to kill an infant born alive following an abortion would be criminally liable to first-degree murder.

H.R. 4712 would further require any employee at a hospital or abortion clinic to report any abortionist or doctor that fails to comply with the law.

The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act would provide clear directives for abortionists to care for the infants born alive and would provide a much needed enforcement mechanism to help reduce the incidence of infanticide behind closed doors.

Almost every American can agree that infanticide is wrong. But for pro-abortion advocates and the Democratic Party, the right to kill an unwanted child, whether born or unborn, has no limits.

Pro-abortion advocates have come out swinging against H.R. 4712 saying the bill will have a "chilling effect" on abortion access.

Indeed, laws tend to have a "chilling effect" on illegal activity - that is their purpose. We should hope that laws prohibiting murder have a "chilling effect" on the incidence of homicide. But for pro-abortion advocates, it is better that infanticide continue than for a law to be passed which would have a "chilling effect" on abortion access, even as there is absolutely no evidence to believe that it would. And even if it would, aren't fewer abortions a good thing?

Democrats have by and large now proven that they are a party that takes no issue with infanticide. H.R. 4712 passed the House handily but only 6 Democrats voted for it, 183 Democrats voted against it.

"[I]f this legislation becomes law, it will irreparably damage the critically important relationship between [doctors] and their patients," Rep. Diana DeGette (D - CO) told the radically pro-abortion online publication .Rewire

But it is unclear how prohibiting infanticide - something that is already illegal but difficult under the current law to enforce - in any way hampers a woman's relationship with her doctor. Unless, of course, it involves a doctor that is committing infanticide.

Opponents of the bill have also claimed that the bill has no medical relevancy. In the same Rewire article, an Amy Friedrich-Karnik, a senior policy adviser for the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), told the publication in an interview that the bill was "vague" and that it "requires providers to act in a certain way without any specificity."

However, the bill is very clear and very specific on how abortionists should comply with the law. H.R. 4712 defines a born alive infant in the same manner that the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act does, namely, any child that has "complete expulsion or extraction from his or her mother" and "breathes or has a beating heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles, regardless of whether the umbilical cord has been cut." If these conditions are met, the abortionist is required, without qualification, to seek gestational-age appropriate medical attention for the infant.

The Senate should put to a vote the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act without delay. H.R. 4712 contains specific guidelines for abortionists on how to care for infants who are born alive following an abortion. The bill's enforcement mechanism will also hopefully prevent post-abortive infanticide from occurring behind closed doors. Senate Democrats should reflect carefully on whether their allegiance to an extreme pro-abortion viewpoint is so strong that they are willing to go on the record in opposing legislation protecting living, breathing human beings.