The House is set to vote next week on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which would protect infants who are delivered alive after a failed abortion procedure. In 2002, President George W. Bush signed the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act (BAIPA), establishing that the terms “person,” “human being,” “child,” and “individual” in federal law include every infant born alive, even after an abortion.
That law, however, did not contain criminal penalties or enforcement mechanisms to punish abortion providers who failed to give medical attention and care to these infants. This bill would address exactly that issue.
As much as the pro-abortion Left insists that such protections are entirely unnecessary — claiming that instances of infants being born alive after abortion are so rare as to be negligible — it is far from a nonexistent problem. In fact, certain types of late-term abortion procedures can very easily result in an infant’s being born alive; these include an induction abortion, if a feticide injection is not administered or the injection fails to kill the child prior to delivery. What then happens to these infants is unclear.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, between 2003 and 2014, 588 of the infant deaths reported included a code indicating that a cause of death was “termination of pregnancy, affecting fetus and newborn.” At least 143 of these deaths could definitively be classified as having involved an induced abortion; the CDC acknowledges that this could be an underestimate.
The fetal-tissue trafficking industry explicitly incentivizes altering abortion procedures in a way that can lead to infants being born alive. Intact cadavers are most valuable to researchers.
The issue of born-alive infants also arose during the recent congressional investigation of the fetal-tissue trafficking industry. This illegal industry — wherein biotech firms pay abortion clinics for tissue from aborted babies and then resell it at a markup to medical-research teams — explicitly incentivizes altering abortion procedures in a way that can lead to infants being born alive. What’s more, it incentivizes failing to care for those infants because their organs are immensely valuable — and, after all, these children are supposedly “unwanted.”
Intact, deceased fetuses that are at the age of viability are so much more useful in medical research, that biotech firms offer much higher profits to abortion clinics for them, compared with what they pay for less-developed fetal parts. Most valuable to researchers — and thus most profitable to abortion clinics and biotech firms — are completely intact, late-gestation fetuses, followed closely by intact organs or tissue from these fetuses.
The House Select Panel found evidence that whole-baby cadavers of a viable age have been transferred from some abortion clinics to researchers. In the undercover videos that prompted the congressional investigation, Planned Parenthood medical directors admitted to not injecting fetuses with the fatal drug digoxin prior to abortion procedures because tissue untainted by feticidal agents is much more helpful to researchers and therefore worth more money.
In other words, abortionists have admitted to illegally altering abortion procedures in a way that increases the likelihood of a live birth — for the sake of financial gain — and abortion clinics stand to profit from allowing those born-alive infants to die so that they can then be sold for even more money. Or, as one of the congressional panel’s reports put it, “pressure from research institutions or procurement companies to provide human fetal organs and tissue at late gestations could negatively impact the treatment born-alive infants receive.”
Abortion clinics are, for the most part, wholly unequipped to care for infants born alive. One witness from Planned Parenthood told the congressional panel:
I can tell you that none of our health centers provide obstetrics care. So they don’t deliver babies. So they don’t have anyone who can provide care, nor do they know what that care is. . . . We don’t deliver babies at Planned Parenthood. . . . Our affiliates don’t provide obstetrical care. So therefore, they don’t know how to manage a term infant or a premature infant.
A theme is clear throughout the reports: Even if abortion-clinic workers wanted to resuscitate or care for born-alive infants, they aren’t trained in this work, and they often lack the resources to carry it out. And given the demands of the tissue-trafficking industry, they often lack the incentive.
This new piece of legislation aims to eliminate this type of neglect, intentional or otherwise. In 2002, BAIPA was passed by voice vote in the House of Representatives and with unanimous consent in the Senate. What will happen this time? Has the Democratic party become so radically pro-abortion that its representatives will feel obliged to vote against protections as fundamental as these?
Next week’s House vote will give some indication of the bill’s fate, but a vote has yet to be scheduled in the Senate. Jurisprudence and U.S. law have long held that the “right to an abortion” does not equal the right to a dead child. This legislation is long overdue. Congress must pass it immediately.
— Alexandra DeSanctis is a William F. Buckley Jr. Fellow in Political Journalism with the National Review Institute.