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House committee votes 22-1 protection for alive newborns

WASHINGTON (BP)–A U.S. House of Representatives committee approved legislation July 26 to provide legal protection to newly born infants, including those who survive abortions.

The House Judiciary Committee voted 22-1 in favor of the Born-alive Infants Protection Act. Rep. Mel Watt, D.-N.C., was the lone member to oppose it.

The bill’s fate in this session, which is expected to end in early October, is unknown, said a staffer for Rep. Charles Canady, R.-Fla., chief sponsor of the legislation. There is no companion bill in the Senate, she said.

The bill would establish in federal law a baby living outside his mother’s womb is a person. The bill would not affect any abortion procedure or require medical treatment on an infant where it is not currently administered, Canady said.

In a hearing July 20, Canady said the legislation does not change the longstanding principle in the law that born-alive infants are entitled to legal protection, but it is necessary “because we believe that that principle … is under threat given other developments in the law.”

Those developments include the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June striking down a state ban on partial-birth abortion, which involves the killing of a nearly totally delivered child. Cultural and medical developments that threaten the principle, witnesses said at the hearing, are a view proposed by some in American academia that parents should be able to kill newly born babies who are handicapped or unhealthy and a practice of allowing babies who survive abortion to die.

Two nurses testified babies, some who might be able to survive with proper care, are being left to die when they survive abortions at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Ill. The abortion method used at Christ Hospital is known as induced-labor abortion or live-birth abortion, said Jill Stanek, a registered nurse. The goal of the procedure is to cause a woman’s cervix to expel a premature baby who dies in the process or shortly after departure from the womb. One of the babies who was born alive survived for nearly eight hours without medical care, she testified.

The bill is H.R. 4292.

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