California Democrats racing to enact abortion protections ahead of a major Supreme Court case are pushing a bill that opens the door to legal infanticide, pro-life activists and experts told The Daily Wire.
“States including California, Colorado, and Connecticut are in a race to the bottom when it comes to abortion policy as Americans await a decision in Dobbs and states prepare for a post-Roe future,” Melanie Israel, policy analyst in the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Wire.
“California policymakers are seeking to make the state a so-called ‘abortion sanctuary,’ at the expense of unborn children and at the behest of the abortion industry which profits from their deaths and hurts women in the process,” she added.
AB 2223, which passed the Assembly Health Committee on Tuesday, states that mothers cannot be held liable for either civil or criminal penalties “based on their actions or omissions” connected to a “perinatal death due to a pregnancy-related cause.”
The word perinatal, which the legislation does not define, usually refers to a few weeks both before and after the baby is born. The legislation’s reference to the word has sparked pro-life anxieties that the bill will be used to legalize infanticide.
California Family Council President Jonathan Keller praised Californians who traveled from all over the state this week to “tell legislators decriminalizing infanticide is barbaric and indefensible.”
“A political culture that justifies killing millions of children in the womb is now declaring open season on unwanted newborns,” he said. “Every Californian must oppose this heinous bill.”
Live Action President Lila Rose worried to The Daily Wire that “criminals who kill children up to four weeks old may be able to operate with impunity in California,” calling AB 2223 “potentially the most destructive pro-abortion bill in the nation.”
“The bill also gives a mother the right to sue any law enforcement agency for investigating or threatening to investigate her ‘pregnancy outcome’ including the perinatal death of her child,” she said. “That means if you find a dead infant in a dumpster, law enforcement is expected not to look into the matter if they think the child died after a failed abortion or from any ‘pregnancy-related cause.'”
Rose also expressed fears that the bill would leave babies born alive through botched abortion open to “murder or killing by neglect.”
AB 2223 would delete the requirement that the coroner determine the cause of “violent, sudden, or unusual deaths” related to “self-induced or criminal abortion.” It would also delete the requirement that an “unattended fetal death be handled as a death without medical attendance.”
“The bill would prohibit using the coroner’s statements on the certificate of fetal death to establish, bring, or support a criminal prosecution or civil cause of damages against any person,” the legislation said.
“If a coroner thinks that the circumstances of a fetal death were suspicious or even criminal, or that the mother was being coerced, that information could not be used by law enforcement to investigate the suspected crime,” Rose said. “Criminals will walk free because of this trojan horse supposedly meant to protect ‘reproductive freedom.'”
But pro-abortion advocates insist that the legislation merely seeks to protect women, and progressive outlets argue that neither the bill’s language nor the lawmaker’s intent supports pro-life allegations that the bill would decriminalize infanticide.
“Investigation and prosecution for ending a pregnancy or experiencing pregnancy loss harms a person’s health and livelihood,” tweeted the National Abortion Rights Action League. “#AB2223 ensures that no one is prosecuted for a stillbirth, a miscarriage, or an abortion.”
Investigation and prosecution for ending a pregnancy or experiencing pregnancy loss harms a person’s health and livelihood. #AB2223 ensures that no one is prosecuted for a stillbirth, a miscarriage, or an abortion. #CALeg pic.twitter.com/1U7rxk9tKt
— NARAL Pro-Choice California (@ProChoiceCA) April 20, 2022
The bill’s author Buffy Wicks, a California state Democratic assemblywoman, insisted that the bill “would not prevent police from investigating fetal deaths that occurred as a result of a crime committed against a pregnant person, or from investigating infant deaths that occurred as a result of an act or omission that took place after delivery.”
“In California today, we have women who are being prosecuted for having miscarriages, and that is not OK,” Wicks said. “We have to send a message to the rest of this country that you cannot be criminalized for pregnancy-related losses.”
A spokeswoman for Wicks, Erin Ivie, told The Associated Press that “the bill is specific to pregnancy and pregnancy-related outcomes, and does not decriminalize the ‘murder of babies’ in the weeks after birth.”
Evie added that perinatal is meant to mean the death of a baby caused by complications in the pregnancy, and that to clarify the term’s meaning, Wicks added an amendment to the original legislation that changed the wording to “perinatal death due to a pregnancy-related cause.”
“Anti-abortion activists are peddling an absurd and disingenuous argument that this bill is about killing newborns when ironically, the part of the bill they’re pointing to is about protecting and supporting parents experiencing the grief of pregnancy loss,” Wicks said, according to the AP.
But Katie Glenn, Government Affairs Counsel at the pro-life organization Americans United for Life, warned The Daily Wire that “the amendment added to AB 2223 does not change the fact that a child could be legally killed after birth under this bill.”
“She is wrong,” Glenn said of Wick’s assertion that the bill is not about infanticide.
“Nothing about the minor changes to the bill changes the fact that it permits the intentional death of a newborn for an undefined amount of time,” Glenn said. “AND it still prevents law enforcement from investigating if they find a dead baby or risk being sued for harassment of the mother and whoever aids her.”
Glenn noted that postpartum depression is one obvious “pregnancy-related cause,” but emphasized that with the phrase undefined, “it could mean just about anything.”
“There is no medical definition of ‘perinatal’ that stops at birth, so as long as that word is included in the bill, a newborn can be legally killed and the police cannot investigate that death without opening themselves up to civil liability,” she said.