Since New York celebrated passage of its euphemistically christened Reproductive Health Act late last month, the debate over abortion laws has reignited. The focus on abortion likely would have blipped through the news cycle had Virginia not followed New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s suggestion that the New York law “shine a bright light forward for the rest of the nation to follow.”
When Virginia considered a similar amendment to its abortion law—one that legalized abortion until the moment of birth based on an unbounded concept of woman’s health—the plan backfired in sub-committee. Virginia House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert, a Republican, quizzed the bill’s sponsor on the breadth of the law.
“How late in the third trimester could a physician perform an abortion if he indicated it would impair the mental health of the woman?” Gilbert asked Virginia Del. Kathy Tran, a Democrat. After Tran acknowledged the bill permitted abortions up to 40 weeks of pregnancy, Gilbert pushed farther, questioning Tran about the scenario of a woman in active labor. “Where it’s obvious a woman is about to give birth—she has physical signs that she is about to give birth, would that still be a point at which she could request an abortion if she was so certified?” Gilbert queried. “She’s dilating.” “My bill would allow that, yes,” Tran acknowledged.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, followed up with another shocker. When asked about the active-labor scenario during a radio interview, Northam told listeners that “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.”
Republican U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse attempted to ensure that no baby born alive following a failed abortion attempt could be left to die based on the mother’s desire. The Nebraska senator introduced the Born-Alive Survivors Protection Act, which would require a doctor to provide the care ordinarily provided to newborns to babies born alive after a failed abortion. Sasse’s efforts failed, though, because he sought passage through a fast-track process that requires unanimous consent, and Democrat Sen. Patty Murray objected to the bill.
House Republicans are also pushing for passage of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, but Democrats kept the measure from coming to the floor. But America doesn’t need the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act: Any baby who survives an abortion and would qualify for care under the proposed Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act should be beyond the reach of the abortionist’s scalpel and forceps.
What our country needs is the Deliver-Alive Human Being Protection Act: A law that unequivocally protects fetuses once they reach the gestational age at which they are potentially viable, currently 22 weeks. At that point, should the pregnancy put the mother’s life at risk, the pre-term delivery of the live baby is indicated—not the killing of the fetus, followed by delivery of a dead baby.
In many states that is not the law. Instead, healthy, viable fetuses may be aborted. Just last week, Teen Vogue—yes, that’s right, TEEN Vogue—exposed this reality in an article by Beth Vial telling “her abortion story.” Vial opened by noting that “New York and Virginia have made headlines for their efforts to cut the medically unnecessary regulations on later abortion,” before proclaiming “Anti-abortion advocates have been intentionally misleading the public about the policies and misrepresenting what later abortion is and why people have them. I know because I had an abortion at 28 weeks.”
Vial then spent the next ten paragraphs explaining that she has polycystic ovary syndrome and irritable bowel syndrome, and that she simply didn’t want to continue the pregnancy because “I was too sick, not ready, and I simply couldn’t afford it.” She eventually travelled to New Mexico to obtain an abortion when her baby was 28 weeks old.
If Vial’s medical condition truly made continuing her pregnancy unsafe, a pre-term delivery would be indicated, not an abortion! But New Mexico law allowed Vial to kill her healthy and viable unborn baby.
If abortion activists have their way, the extreme abortion regimes of New Mexico and New York will be making their way to a statehouse near you. Already we’re seeing expansive bills proposed in other liberal states.
In Rhode Island, two competing bills seek to remove current restrictions on abortions, including a full repeal of the ban on partial-birth abortions. If passed, the Rhode Island law would also permit abortions up to birth to “preserve the health” of the woman. Like Virginia’s proposed law, this language is broad enough to allow an abortion to proceed even as the woman is in active labor, but the Rhode Island version would not even require a doctor’s certification of the purported “health” condition.
Vermont’s proposed House Bill 57 goes even farther: That bill provides that “A fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus shall not have independent rights under Vermont law,” and declares that “No State or local law enforcement shall prosecute any individual for inducing, performing, or attempting to induce or perform the individual’s own abortion.”
There are no limits on gestational age, viability, or methods of abortion. In other words, this bill provides for abortion on demand, for any reason, at any time, without even requiring the woman to present a health pretense.
While the East Coast sisterhood of states pushes these extreme abortion bills, Congress seems fixated on the few babies who survive the slaughter. But there is a better way: protect viable fetuses by passing a federal Deliver-Alive Human Being Protection Act.
President Trump and House and Senate Republicans have already announced support for just such a law, although not framed that way. That is a mistake, because the intense backlash to Tran and Northam’s comments demonstrates that the American public view the abortion of viable fetuses—babies, if they can survive the trip through the birth canal—as barbaric.
The legislation that would protect viable fetuses is currently being sold as the Pain-Capable Unborn Protection Act. This bill would prohibit abortions after a gestational age of 22 weeks, the age at which a fetus may be viable outside his mother’s womb.
While this legislation would allow abortions after 22 weeks in the case of rape or to save the life of the mother, the statute makes clear that the physician terminating the pregnancy under those exceptions must do so in a manner that “provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive.” In other words, the termination of the pregnancy occurs when the baby is delivered alive.
Congress needs to repackage these provisions as the federal Deliver-Alive Human Being Protection Act. It is unfortunate that marketing has any role in the abortion debate, but after 40-plus years of Planned Parenthood and NARAL selling euphemisms and falsehoods, much of the public remains blind to the reality of abortion. Now that Tran and Northam have unwittingly exposed the festering facts, Congress must seize the moment.