WASHINGTON (BP)–Southern Baptist and other pro-life leaders applauded President Bush’s signing of a measure providing legal protection to fully delivered babies, even when abortion is intended.
The president signed into law the Born-alive Infants Protection Act in a public ceremony Aug. 5 in Pittsburgh, Pa.
The act clarifies a newborn child fully outside his mother’s womb is a person to be protected under federal law. This includes every human infant “born alive at any stage of development,” according to the new law.
The legislation especially targeted an abortion method in which newborns who survive are allowed to die. The procedure, which nurses testified is used at Christ Hospital in Chicago, is called live-birth abortion. In the method, delivery is induced. If the baby survives the procedure, he is left unattended to die.
Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, thanked Bush in an Aug. 6 letter for signing the legislation in a public ceremony and encouraged him to continue efforts to protect all human life.
“We share your commitment to the sanctity of all human life, from conception to natural death,” Land said. “We are dedicated to work until the day that our culture truly is a culture of life.”
Ken Connor, president of Family Research Council, called enactment of the law “a watershed in the effort to roll back the abortion-on-demand regime” established by the Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling legalizing abortion.
The new law “makes it clear that a woman’s right to an abortion does not guarantee the right to a dead baby,” Connor said.
In a six-minute speech before he signed the bill, Bush said the measure “establishes a principle in American law and American conscience — there is no right to destroy a child who has been born alive. A child who is born has intrinsic worth and must have the full protection of our laws.”
He called the new law “a step toward the day when every child is welcomed in life and protected in law. It is a step toward the day when the promises of the Declaration of Independence will apply to everyone, not just those with the voice and power to defend their rights.”
In addition to the live-birth abortion method, other techniques also have resulted in babies surviving, only to be killed outside the womb or allowed to die, according to reports from inside clinics.
The legislation did not stir up as much opposition as normal pro-life proposals.
The Senate passed it by unanimous consent in mid-July, four months after the House of Representatives approved the bill by voice vote.
Even the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League eventually chose not to oppose it. NARAL, one of the country’s leading abortion-rights organizations, initially lobbied against the Born-alive Infants Protection Act when it was introduced in 2000. A year later, however, it dropped its opposition.
Senate approval of the measure marked a departure from the norm for pro-life legislation in this congressional session. The House has approved various pro-life bills — including the Human Cloning Prohibition Act, Child Custody Protection Act and Unborn Victims of Violence Act — without the Senate taking any action under the leadership of pro-choice Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D.-S.D. Passage of the Born-alive Infants Protection Act could have been blocked by a single dissenting senator, but none contested its adoption.
The House overwhelmingly approved the bill in 2000, but it was killed in the Senate.
Last year, each house approved the measure as an amendment to the Patients’ Bill of Rights. A conference committee did not report out a final version of the patients’ bill, however.
Rep. Steve Chabot, R.-Ohio, was the chief sponsor of the bill. Sen. Rick Santorum, R.-Pa., was the prime sponsor in the Senate.