Pro-life advocates who warned a California bill could have legalized infanticide have been proven right, according to an analysis produced by the Democrat-dominated state Assembly.
California Assembly Bill 2223, introduced by Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland), would have forbidden law enforcement from charging any woman for any action or inaction that affects her “pregnancy outcome, including miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion, or perinatal death.” According to some analysis, the perinatal period could extend weeks after birth.
The bill has since been amended to note that for a “perinatal death” to be covered under the law, the death needed to be “due to a pregnancy-related cause.”
Critics initially warned that the bill’s overly vague language would have decriminalized infanticide — a concern they still hold, despite the revision.
“For years, pro-life advocates have argued there is no moral difference between ending a child’s life days before birth or days after birth. California’s pro-abortion legislators now seemingly agree,” said Jonathan Keller, president of California Family Council, which mobilized citizens against the bill, before the amendment. “California lawmakers have crossed a red line by seeking to legitimize the killing of hours-old and even week-old infants,” agreed Matthew McReynolds of the Pacific Justice Institute.
In a statement, Wicks accused opponents of her proposal of “peddling an absurd and disingenuous argument that this bill is about killing newborns.” She also stated, “A judge would be hard-pressed to interpret that language as protecting a person who kills their baby up to seven days after birth intentionally,” because “one of the tools judges would use in that case is legislative intent.”
But the California Assembly Committee on Judiciary released an official analysis of the bill on April 3 which specifically states the original legislation would have the “unintended” effect of legalizing the murder of newborns:
[T]he “perinatal death” language could lead to an unintended and undesirable conclusion. As currently in print, it may not be sufficiently clear that “perinatal death” is intended to be the consequence of a pregnancy complication. Thus, the bill could be interpreted to immunize a pregnant person from all criminal penalties for all pregnancy outcomes, including the death of a newborn for any reason during the “perinatal” period after birth, including a cause of death which is not attributable to pregnancy complications, which clearly is not the author’s intent.
The analysis says that, while the bill does not define the term “perinatal,” it applies “up to 7 completed days of life.” One provision in California state Welfare and Institutions code states: “‘Perinatal’ means the period from the establishment of pregnancy to one month following delivery,” the analysis states. Yet another portion of state law, not cited by the analysis, extends the term “perinatal” to “60 days following delivery.”
After the committee released its official analysis, Buffy Wicks amended the bill, changing the wording to “perinatal death due to a pregnancy-related cause.” The amended bill passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, April 5, by a 7-2, party-line vote.
But state and national pro-life leaders say the revised version of the bill remains insufficient to protect unborn children from death by neglect or abuse.
“The amendment does nothing to solve the perinatal, post-birth ‘abortion’ issue, what we know to be infanticide,” Katie Glenn of Americans United for Life, who testified against the bill, told me exclusively. “The bill extends far beyond protecting women from criminal liability. It explicitly also protects anyone who ‘aids her’ in making a pregnancy decision, which could include a partner, parent, abuser, or even a doctor who’s performing an otherwise illegal abortion.”
Some are worried that AB 2223 will chill law enforcement investigations because it proscribes not merely police investigation but the “threat of investigation” into perinatal deaths due to pregnancy in most cases.
“The bill still prevents law enforcement from investigating ‘perinatal death,’ and the amendments Ms. Wicks proposed this week are woefully inadequate and will not protect any innocent children from death by neglect,” Keller told me.
Under the amended bill, the coroner need not “hold inquests for deaths related to or following known or suspected self-induced or criminal abortion,” and a coroner’s findings cannot be used to “establish, bring, or support a criminal prosecution … against any person, whether or not they were the person who was pregnant with the fetus.” This would mean coroner’s statements could not be used to prosecute abortionists.
Glenn added, “The bill analysis says that law enforcement can investigate, but only until they find evidence of wrongdoing. Then they need to drop the case or they may face liability for ‘interfering’ with her so-called ‘rights.’”
The proposal would give anyone involved in a pregnancy-related death the right to sue any government agency, inspector, or police officer who investigates a purported “stillbirth” or “miscarriage” for $25,000, plus punitive damages, lawyer’s fees, and “expert witness fees” for testimony, which could include testimony from Planned Parenthood employees.
A court could also issue a restraining order against any officer deemed to have violated the provisions of this bill.
“The reality is that already overburdened law enforcement agencies will look the other way to avoid the trouble of litigation,” Glenn said.
The bill has been referred to the California Assembly Health Committee.