On Thursday, Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) denounced the Republican-sponsored Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (BAASPA), which failed to pass the Senate on Monday (53-44).
During her speech, Hirono made multiple fallacious claims.
Earlier this week, we voted on legislation that some of my colleagues claimed was needed to outlaw infanticide – the killing of babies. How absurd. It is, and has always been, illegal to kill any human, including infants.
Hirono’s assertion is incorrect. While the 2002 Born Alive Infant Protection Act (BAIPA) declared that an infant born alive is a "person" and a "human being" under federal law, it didn’t "specify the obligations surrounding duty of care for such infants," nor did it delineate any criminal ramifications for doctors who refuse to provide care for an infant that survives a failed abortion, reports The Heritage Foundation’s Melanie Israel.
According to the American Center for Law and Justice, which queried the database compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from 2001 – 2010, "362 infant deaths resulted from attempted (and subsequently botched) abortions, where the baby was first born alive and then died."
The Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act would require doctors to attempt resuscitation of any infant (see: legal human being under BAIPA) that is born alive following a failed abortion. If he or she fails to do so, they could face criminal penalties.
The text reads in part:
Any health care practitioner present at the time the child is born alive shall—
(A) exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as a reasonably diligent and conscientious health care practitioner would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age; and
(B) following the exercise of skill, care, and diligence required under subparagraph (A), ensure that the child born alive is immediately transported and admitted to a hospital.
The bill uses the definition of "born alive" provided in 1 US Code, Section 8 (b), which states:
The term "born alive," with respect to a member of the species homo sapiens, means the complete expulsion or extraction from his or her mother of that member, at any stage of development, who after such expulsion or extraction breathes or has a beating heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles, regardless of whether the umbilical cord has been cut, and regardless of whether the expulsion or extraction occurs as a result of natural or induced labor, cesarean section, or induced abortion.
The Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act would have built upon BAIPA’s definition of what constitutes a legal human being. It would have adding a requirement of attempted resuscitation following a failed abortion, which BAIPA didn’t include, and provided criminal penalties for physicians who failed to follow that requirement.
So what was in that legislation we voted on earlier this week? To honestly discuss the bill, we need to have a factually and medically accurate conversation about abortion. A healthy fetus becomes potentially able to live outside the womb at about 24 weeks of pregnancy. Very few abortions occur after that – less than 1 percent – and generally are performed either because the fetus has a fatal condition or the pregnant woman's life or health is at severe risk. These are heartbreaking situations involving very wanted pregnancies – hardly the time for the heavy hand of government to reach into our wombs.
While the claim that "very few" abortions occur after 24 weeks isn’t a lie, it downplays significant terminations. According to the Guttmacher Institute, approximately 1.3% of abortions are performed at 21 weeks or later, meaning that out of the 926,000 abortions in 2014, more than 12,000 were performed close to or after "viability."
Additionally, according to a 2013 paper by Diana Greene Foster and Katrina Kimport published in Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, "data suggest that most women seeking later terminations are not doing so for reasons of fetal anomaly or life endangerment."
Finally, as former abortion doctor Anthony Levatino has repeatedly stated, late-term abortions are never needed to save a woman’s life:
We hear all the time how abortion, including especially late-term abortion, is necessary to save women's lives. Nothing could be further from the truth. I spent nine years working at a tertiary medical center. There are only certain hospitals in the country that are designated to take care of the really, really high-risk pregnancies ...
Albany Medical Center in Albany, New York, where I worked, was one of them. I was faculty at the hospital for nine years, and I saw hundreds of cases of really severe pregnancy complications – cancers, heart disease, intractable diabetes ... toxemia pregnancy, out of control. In those nine years, I saved hundreds of women from life-threatening pregnancies, and I did that by delivering them, by ending their pregnancy by delivery – either induction of labor or cesarean section...
I always tell people, in all of those years, the number of babies that I had to, that I was obligated to deliberately kill in the process was zero, none.
Levatino explained during an interview with Live Action founder Lila Rose that the preparation for late-term abortions, specifically relating to dilation of the cervix, "can take anywhere from 24 to 72 hours." Women in critical pregnancy-related conditions, such as preeclampsia, don’t have that time to spare.
Hirono then claimed that according to the bill:
...doctors will be required to resuscitate infants born with fatal conditions, even if the parents did not want these measures that could prolong their infant's suffering and instead wanted to spend the limited time they had with their baby comforting their child and holding them close.
This makes no sense. The Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act mandates care for infants born following failed abortions. An abortion, if performed properly, results in the termination of a fetus. Why would a woman spend time "comforting" a deceased fetus after the she underwent a procedure that was specifically intended to end its life?
Hirono concluded this portion of her argument by claiming the Republican Party "demonize[s] women who face the heartbreaking situation of needing an abortion later in pregnancy, oftentimes for medical reasons."
You can watch Sen. Hirono’s speech below: