The NCLBC shall exercise unified political power for the betterment of people of color and consequently, all North Carolinians.

‘Born alive’ abortion bill passes Senate

April 16th, 2019

— A bill that would make it a felony for a doctor to fail to perform lifesaving measures on a baby born alive as a result of a botched abortion passed the Senate on Monday night, despite opposition from Democrats who say it’s a political attempt to demonize abortion providers.

Senate Bill 359, titled the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors’ Protection Act,” also would require anyone with knowledge of such an act to report it to authorities. Mothers could not be prosecuted for failure to provide care.

It’s unclear how often babies are born in such a scenario and even less clear how often doctors fail to take action to save the baby’s life. Supporters claim that data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show it happens hundreds of times a year, but the CDC confirmed to WRAL News that it does not track either specific set of data, reporting only on mortality in birth.

Late-term abortions, the cases in which a such a birth would be most likely to occur, make up less than 1 percent of all abortions. For years in North Carolina, abortion has been banned after 20 weeks. Late-term abortions were allowed only when the mother’s life or health is endangered by the pregnancy. However, a federal judge recently overturned the state’s 20-week ban. That ruling has been temporarily stayed pending appeal.

“In committee, this was described as performing a political stunt,” sponsor Sen. Joyce Krawiec, R-Forsyth, told the Senate. “This is about protecting newborn babies that are born alive … little, tiny, helpless babies.”

“It’s clear allowing a living, breathing child to die without any attempt to provide lifesaving care is infanticide, plain and simple,” Krawiec continued. “No, we do not have laws in place protecting babies who are born alive as the result of an abortion.”

Krawiec said 31 states already have such laws in place and cited the example of Kermit Gosnell, the Pennsylvania abortion doctor who was convicted in 2013 for murdering three babies who were born alive after botched abortions.

“We have no way of knowing,” how often it happens, Krawiec admitted, adding that the state doesn’t track such cases. She mentioned a law recently passed in New York as reason for concern and said polls show voters support the bill.

Democrats protested that the scenario the bill seeks to criminalize doesn’t happen and that it’s part of a nationwide effort by abortion foes to push a case up to the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.

“There is no need for the legislature to criminalize these complex medical decisions that are best left up to patients and their doctors,” protested Sen. Terry Van Duyn, D-Buncombe. “It is not grounded in medical science. It is not grounded in fact.”

“The real reason this bill is being pushed is to stigmatize reproductive health care providers,” added Van Duyn, a claim echoed by Sens. Natasha Marcus, D-Mecklenburg, and Erica Smith, D-Northampton.

“It seeks to demonize and criminalize women and doctors when they are most vulnerable,” said Smith, adding that the real concern for African-American women is infant mortality and death during childbirth. “There’s no such thing as abortion during labor and delivery. Any suggestion otherwise is just not true.”

“This bill,” said Marcus, “does not help anyone. It’s about political points.”

Republicans replied that the bill doesn’t address abortion – only the rights of a baby after it’s born alive.

“Think of this bill in terms of your legacy as a legislator,” urged Sen. Paul Newton, R-Cabarrus. “If your grandkids look back at your voting record as a senator, what do you want them to see? That you protected life? Or you didn’t protect life?”

“It’s about the wellbeing of a child,” Newton insisted.

The bill passed 28-19, with Sens. Ben Clark, D-Hoke, and Don Davis, D-Greene, voting with the Republican majority in support.

The measure is being fast-tracked by Republican House and Senate leaders, with simultaneous hearings in the House and Senate. It’s expected to pass the House on Tuesday and head to Gov. Roy Cooper.

Asked for Cooper’s position on the bill, spokeswoman Sadie Weiner sent her own statement.

“This unnecessary legislation would criminalize doctors for a practice that simply does not exist,” Weiner said. “Laws already exist to protect newborn babies, and legislators should instead be focused on other issues like expanding access to health care to help children thrive.”

Weiner did not respond to a query about whether Cooper would veto the bill.

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