Recent Defeat of Infanticide Bill

Our current communications intern makes a timely report on the background of the recent bill, shut down in the Senate, to protect infants born alive after abortions, exploring Virginia Governor Northam's infanticidal comments as well. ]


by Sofia Infante, MCFL Communications Intern

In response to recent comments advocating for infanticide by Virginia Governer, Ralph Northam, Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) announced his intention to introduce a bill to be passed by unanimous consent that would provide legal protections to infants born alive in botched abortions. The process of unanimous consent means one vote in opposition prevents the bill from moving forward. The Born-Alive Survivors Protections Act would ensure that babies born during abortion procedures would receive life-saving medical care. Currently, only 26 states have laws protecting babies who have survived abortions.

On the heels of New York’s passage of extreme abortion legislation, lawmakers in other states like Virginia, Rhode Island, and Vermont are looking to further expand access to and deregulate abortion beyond the point when the child is considered viable (20-24 weeks). In Virginia, Democratic House Delegate Kathy Tran recently introduced a bill that would facilitate a woman’s access to abortion. As it stands, Virginia’s abortion law allows a woman to obtain an abortion up to the third trimester with the approval of three physicians, certifying that the pregnancy poses a substantial and irremediable effect on the woman’s physical or mental health. Tran’s proposed bill would allow a woman to obtain an abortion without having to seek the approval of a third physician and it would eliminate the need for the pregnancy to be considered substantially and irremediably "harmful" to the woman’s health. During a subcommittee hearing for the bill, Kathy Tran conceded that her bill would allow a woman to obtain an abortion even while she was dilating. Further, the bill would essentially remove the doctor’s legal requirement to provide medical care to a born alive infant, changing the language from a “must” to a “shall.”

When interviewed by a local radio news station, Gov. Northam defended Tran’s comments by approving of killing children outside of the womb. Northam, a former pediatric neurologist, stated: "If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that's what the mother and the family desired. And then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother. So I think this was really blown out of proportion." In sum, the parents can decide if they want the doctor to commit post-birth abortion, or simply stated: infanticide.

Sen. Ben Sasse’s straightforward piece of legislation ensures that a child born alive during an abortion is guaranteed by law the right to life-saving medical care. “We are actually talking about babies that have been born. The only debate on the floor tonight is about infanticide… This is about fourth-trimester abortion.” At the very least, “Everyone in this Senate ought to be able to say that the little baby deserves life, that she has rights, and that killing her is wrong.” When it came time to vote, Democratic Senator Patty Murray from Washington voted against the measure, incorrectly stating that legal prohibitions against infanticide already exist.

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