Activists’ days of using sanitized euphemisms to mask the horrors of abortion are drawing to a close. The vague “right to choose” mantra is quickly morphing into the right to kill a full-term baby after birth, with no questions asked.
A California bill passed last week by the state Assembly Judiciary Committee and now on its way to the Assembly Health Committee could permit infanticide, opponents warn. The bill, AB 2223, is brought to citizens by the Future of Abortion Council, a group of more than 40 abortion advocacy groups organized at the urging of Gov. Gavin Newsom to help make California an “abortion sanctuary” state.
The bill’s sponsor, Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks, claims it does not legalize infanticide but “protects reproductive freedom by clarifying that the Reproductive Privacy Act prohibits pregnancy criminalization.”
However, the text prohibits investigations into deaths “related to or following known or suspected self-induced or criminal abortion” and would “delete the requirement that an unattended fetal death be handled as a death without medical attendance.” The bill also removes criminal liability for “actions or omissions” with respect to pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes.
‘Perinatal Death’ Is Frighteningly Broad
The biggest problem is found in Section 7, where the bill provides broad protection in the case of “perinatal death due to a pregnancy-related cause.” The bill text states:
The Legislature finds and declares that every individual possesses a fundamental right of privacy with respect to personal reproductive decisions, which entails the right to make and effectuate decisions about all matters relating to pregnancy, including prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, contraception, sterilization, abortion care, miscarriage management, and infertility care. …
Notwithstanding any other law, a person shall not be subject to civil or criminal liability or penalty, or otherwise deprived of their rights under this article, based on their actions or omissions with respect to their pregnancy or actual, potential, or alleged pregnancy outcome, including miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion, or perinatal death due to a pregnancy-related cause.
Legal experts explain the word “perinatal” is not clearly defined, meaning it could be used to justify killing a baby weeks after birth, depending on how it is interpreted by courts. According to multiple dictionaries, “perinatal” means “the period around childbirth, especially the five months before and one month after birth.”
The California Family Council notes that definitions of the word all include the period from 22 weeks of gestation to at least seven days post-birth. The World Health Organization also holds to this definition.
Existing California law expands the period. In California’s Welfare and Institutions Code, “perinatal” refers to the period “from the establishment of pregnancy to one month following delivery.” Elsewhere, the term “perinatal services” encompasses 60 days after delivery.
Cases of babies surviving abortion attempts have been extensively documented. But this bill permits abortionists to allow infants born alive to die by neglect.
“In California under AB 2223, former Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who murdered three infants born alive after botched abortions, could not be prosecuted,” explained Susan Arnall, an attorney and director of outreach for the Right to Life League. “And incredibly, someone like Gosnell who helped a California mother kill her newborn after birth will actually have a cause of action to sue police for investigating the matter if AB 2223 becomes law.”
Don’t Let the Vague Amendment Fool You
AB 2223 was amended on April 6 to add “due to a pregnancy-related cause” at the end of “perinatal death.” But Arnall told me the addition is meaningless and does “absolutely nothing to address the justifiable concerns relating to infanticide” or change what constitutes a perinatal death.
“To date, AB 2223 as amended will decriminalize infanticide — the death of a baby born alive, whether as a result of a failed abortion (which is already exempted from prosecution by CA Penal Code Section 187) or for some other reason like neglect or harm by the mother or a third party during the perinatal period,” Arnall said.
Arnall believes the amended bill also still discourages investigation into infant deaths.
“While the April 6 amendments attempt to address problems concerning immunity for government investigations, the bill will likely chill investigation of infant deaths since it empowers mothers and anyone connected with the death of a newborn to bring a private cause of action for damages ($25,000 penalty), including the threat of attorney fees upon motion to a judge, against people who inquire into a newborn’s death,” she said. “What impact will this bill have on private health care providers, doctors or nurses who report a perinatal death?”
Pro-lifers often highlight the absurdity of pro-choice arguments by pointing out there is no practical difference between a baby just before birth and just after birth. Once upon a time, this challenge gave some abortion advocates pause. Not anymore.
As California Family Council President Jonathan Keller told CBN, AB 2223 opens the door to “open season on unwanted newborns.”
“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,” Keller said. “California’s pro-abortion legislators now seemingly agree.”
It’s Not Just California
A similar bill in Maryland, SB 669, entirely strips pre-born babies of all rights, declaring that nothing “shall be construed to confer personhood or any rights on the fetus.” It also bans investigations or criminal charges for death by neglect during the perinatal period.
“One blue-state bill that would allow a born baby to be neglected to death might be an anomaly,” said author Wesley J. Smith in response to the Maryland bill. “A second that does that — and perhaps could be interpreted to allow infanticide, also — is a pattern,” he continued. “The cultural Left is blazing new grounds of depravity.”
In Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis last week signed HB 1279, which will specifically strip unborn babies of any rights as human beings, as well as “permit abortion-on-demand for any reason in Colorado, permit abortion discrimination based on sex or race or ability level,” according to the Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Denver.
The progression should not come as a total surprise, as academics, most notably Princeton University ethics professor Peter Singer, have been discussing the case for infanticide for years. Three years ago, Virginia Democrat Gov. Ralph Northam made headlines for suggesting that a baby who survived an abortion could be killed by doctors at the mother’s direction. The law is just catching up.
AB 2223 is one of many pieces of legislation supported by California’s Future of Abortion Council. In January, Governor Newsom also allocated $20 million of the state budget proposal to loan repayments and scholarships for medical students and healthcare providers who “commit to providing reproductive health care services.”
As the final touch on an already radical bill, AB 2223 erases the fact that pregnancy is a uniquely female gift, replacing all references to “women” with “pregnant people.”