Syndicated Columnists

‘Born-Alive’ abortion bill’s failure is a sad fate for infants

A young boy holds a sign during an anti-abortion rally on the steps of the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019.
A young boy holds a sign during an anti-abortion rally on the steps of the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. AP

It seems that everyone has an opinion about the fact that 44 Senate Democrats voted against the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act last week. I certainly do. I’m sure you do, too.

My social media has been filled with sound and fury in support of the bill, but it amounted to nothing, because the bill was defeated Tuesday.

Regardless, I want to discuss what happened when abortion supporters opposed the lowest-hanging fruit on the tree of common decency: giving aid to an ailing child who beat the odds and survived an abortion.

Let’s start with the text of the legislation, which won the support of three Democrats: Robert Casey of Pennsylvania, Doug Jones of Alabama and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. The words of the bill would have simply reaffirmed that a child born in this country is entitled to legal protections as a “person”:

▪  If an abortion results in the live birth of an infant, the infant is a legal person for all purposes under the laws of the United States, and entitled to all the protections of such laws.

▪  Any infant born alive after an abortion in a hospital, clinic or other facility has the same claim to the protection of the law that would arise for any newborn, or for any person who comes to a hospital, clinic, or other facility for screening and treatment or otherwise becomes a patient within its care.

That is the relevant portion of the bill, the section that defines “person” for legal and medical purposes. We are no longer in that dense verbal forest of abortion politics, where the question of when a fetus becomes a baby weighs on our consciences and taxes our common sense. This legislation presumes there is a “born child,” one that has left the womb and can no longer be considered a part of the mother’s body.

We are talking about babies here, whole and separate entities who are both legal persons and U.S. citizens under the 14th Amendment.

This failed bill is not about abortion, because the legislation in question presumed that a child was already here, having passed through the birth canal into the waiting world. This was about recognizing the rights of infants who had survived abortions and were no less human than children born to mothers who wanted them.

And even here, the strongest supporters of a woman’s right to choose insisted on ignoring the humanity of the infant. The words of the bill would have simply required that a child who survived an abortion be given the most efficient, lifesaving care available. If the child died despite all of medicine’s best efforts, it would have at least been given a fighting chance at life, as promised in the Declaration of Independence.

Opponents of the bill pushed back and raised the specter of a “nonviable” child being resuscitated and brought back from the brink of death, only to live a life of misery. They pushed back against the suggestion that they were anti-baby, and deflected attention from their political solidarity as Democrats by reminding us all that Republicans put kids in cages. They pushed back with the suggestion that this bill violated the mandate in Roe v. Wade, overturning a woman’s desire to terminate a pregnancy by administering care to the accidental, unwanted child.

Years ago, Hillary and Bill Clinton addressed the difficult moral questions raised by abortion in their now-famous slogan of “safe, legal and rare.” Today’s abortion advocates seem to have abandoned that last point, demonstrating a desire to extend a woman’s right to choose even beyond her own body. The tentacles of Roe are long.

There are a lot of things that I could say about the defeat of this simple, self-evident law. But I think that my friend Helene said it best:

“I am a nurse, and also have a business which serves the special-needs population. This is not just a slippery slope; this is a bloody slide into hell.”

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