Governor Greg Abbott of Texas recently signed bill HB 16 into law, securing legal protections for babies who survive botched abortion procedures. The Texas Born-Alive Infant Protection Act is set to go into effect September 1, 2019 despite the hearings having been delayed after four female Democratic lawmakers refused to hear testimony from abortion survivors Gianna Jessen and Melissa Ohden.
Ensuring children born alive after a botched abortion are granted the dignity of proper care, the bill states, “The physician must 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 physician would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age.” Physicians who violate this law by withholding care to abortion survivors can face felony charges in addition to a civil penalty.
While the 2002 Born Alive Infants Protection Act granted legal personhood to babies who survive botched abortions, there are no legal penalties for physicians who fail to comply with the law. It also fails to mandate the kind of treatment abortion survivors are entitled to receive, such as transferring them to the nearest hospital to receive emergency care or providing them with neonatal resuscitation. Despite the lack of clear legal protections for babies of failed abortions, pro-abortion politicians have denied expanding protections for survivors of abortion, having repeatedly blocked voting for anti-infanticide bills.
A similar bill to the one in Texas which would have protected babies born alive in attempted abortions was vetoed by North Carolina Governor Ray Cooper.
In his veto letter, Cooper said of the Born-Alive Survivors Protection Act, “Laws already protect newborn babies and this bill is an unnecessary interference between doctors and their patients.”
Cooper went on to express his disbelief for the necessity of the bill, saying the bill would “criminalize doctors and other healthcare providers for a practice that simply does not exist.” But data from the Centers for Disease Control prove him, and other lawmakers who oppose protections for abortion survivors based on the same faulty reasoning, incorrect.
Babies continue to be born alive after botched abortions. Between 2003 and 2014, the CDC reported 143 babies died after having been born alive after a failed abortion procedure. The CDC has also stated they believe this is an underestimation. A government report from Canada in 2012 reported 491 children survived abortions from 2000-2009. Another report found 766 children survived abortions from 2013-2018. Government reports from the United Kingdom and Australia concluded with similar results.
Speaking on the measures Texas has taken against infanticide, the Senior Policy Analyst of Texas Values Action, Nicole Hudgens, said, “With the signing of this law, Texas has drawn a line in the sand against the barbaric infanticide policies of other states. Every life is precious and deserves to be protected. We thank Governor Abbott for signing this common-sense bill into law and for the hard work of Representative Leach and Senator Kolkhorst for their leadership on this issue.”
You can read more about the personal stories of several abortion survivors here.