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Senate approves protection for newborns; Bush to sign

WASHINGTON (BP)–Legislation providing legal protection to fully delivered babies, even when abortion is intended, cleared its highest hurdle July 18.

The U.S. Senate passed by unanimous consent the Born-alive Infants Protection Act, H.R. 2175. The Senate action followed by four months the House of Representatives’ approval of the bill. The House adopted the bill by voice vote in mid-March.

President Bush has signaled he will sign it into law.

Senate approval of the Born-alive Infants Protection Act 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 protested its adoption.

The bill clarifies that a newborn child fully outside his mother’s womb is a person to be protected under federal law.

It was first proposed in 2000 after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a state law barring partial-birth abortions and after congressional testimony was heard describing 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.

“For many years, one of the many heinous secrets of the abortion movement has been the dreaded complication of a live birth in spite of all efforts to kill the baby prior to birth,” said Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

This bill “is a symbol of the growing awareness of the personhood of a child threatened by abortion, and we can only hope and pray it is the beginning of many steps that will restore full legal protection to unborn persons in America,” Land said.

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 H.R. 2175. Sen. Rick Santorum, R.-Pa., was the prime sponsor of the Senate version.