The Born Alive Infants Protection Act

The Born Alive Infants Protections Act was signed into law by President Bush.

The Act stated that any baby born alive after an abortion must receive appropriate medical care. If signs of life are present, such an infant would have to be cared for. The practice of simply discarding these children is forbidden (though not always stopped) by this Act.

The Act defines the terms “person” and “born alive” in the following ways:

(a) In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the words “person”, “human being”, “child”, and “individual” should include every infant member of the species homo sapiens who is born alive at any stage of development.

(b) As used in this section, the term “born alive”, with respect to a member of the species homo sapiens, means the complete expulsion or extraction from his or her mother of that member, at any stage of development, who after such expulsion or extraction breathes or has a beating heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles, regardless of whether the umbilical cord has been cut, and regardless of whether the expulsion or extraction occurs as a result of natural or induced labor, caesarian section, or induced abortion.

Public Law 107-207

U.S. Code

Title 1, Chapter 1: Rules of Construction

Section 8.

As simple as this may be, Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) opposed the Act because it was not specific enough. He also requested that the court not “proceed so quickly” and that the bill might “require medical professionals to provide treatment that is not mandated under existing and future applicable standards of care.”

Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH), testified before the Subcommittee that providing legal personhood to premature infants who survive abortions:

“is an attempt to do what the U.S. Supreme Court has strictly forbidden over and over–it unduly restricts a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy.”

From “Senate Passes Born-Alive Infants Protection Act,” National Right to Life, at:  NARAL. Pro-Choice America issued a press release denouncing the Born Alive Infant Protection Act. Here is the text:


Anti-Choice Lawmakers Hold Hearing on So-Called “Born Alive Infants Protection Act”

WASHINGTON, DC- The basic tenants of Roe v Wade were the subject of yet another anti-choice assault today, as the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution held a hearing on H.R. 492, the so-called “Born-Alive Infants Protection Act.” The Act would effectively grant legal personhood to a pre-viable fetus- in direct conflict with Roe- and would inappropriately inject prosecutors and lawmakers into the medical decision-making process. The bill was was introduced by well-known abortion opponent Rep. Charles Canady (R – FL) and has been endorsed by the National Right to Life Committee.

Roe V. Wade clearly states that women have a right to choose prior to fetal viability. After viability, Roe allows states to prohibit or restrict abortion as long as exceptions are made to protect the life and health of the woman. In proposing this bill, anti-choice lawmakers are seeking to ascribe rights to fetuses “at any stage of development,” thereby directly contradicting one of Roe’s basic tenants.

The bill also attempts to inject Congress in what should be personal and private decisions about medical treatment in difficult and painful situations where a fetus has no chance for survival. It could also interfere with the sound practice of medicine by spurring physicians to take extraordinary steps in situations where their efforts may be futile and when their medical judgment may indicate otherwise.

This is not the first time we’ve seen Rep. Canady and his anti-choice colleagues attempt to chip away at the foundation of Roe v Wade in just this manner. Last year, the same subcommittee held a hearing on the so-called “Unborn Victim of Violence Act” … With all these bills, anti-choice lawmakers purposefully set America on a path that they believe will ultimately lead to the overturn of Roe V Wade. In keeping with this goal, the subcommittee has put the “Born-Alive Infants Protection Act” on the fast track and has scheduled a markup for Friday, July 21, 2000.”

NOW later flip-flopped and claimed to no longer oppose the law.

An article on Planned Parenthood’s website, “PP Profiles of 15 Anti-Choice Organizations” cites National Right to Life as one of the “anti-choice” groups threatening women’s rights. Supporting the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act is included in a list of Right to Life’s crimes. Not only that, but Planned Parenthood’s voter guide includes information on every congressman who voted on ‘anti-choice’ legislation, including the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act.

And the Feminist Majority Foundation published an article on their newswire in September of 2000 entitled “Anti-Choice Bill Passes House.” Here are some excerpts from that article:

“On Sept. 25, the House of Representatives passed the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, a measure that would treat as a person under the law a fetus that is breathing when it leaves the womb, even if during an abortion procedure….Pro-choice activists call the bill an attempt to chip away at the rights women gained in the 1972 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. Rosemary Dempsey, Washington DC Director of the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy called the bill “deceptive, extreme and unconstitutional.” She noted that “The bill proposes a definitional change to the entire United States Code, clouded in a deceptive scheme to denounce the principles guaranteed in Roe v. Wade and confirmed by the recent Stenberg v. Carhart Supreme Court decision.” The Association of Reproductive Health Professionals also opposed this act. From the article “Bush signs Born-Alive Infants Protection Act” in ARHP Update September 2002: “On August 5th, President Bush signed the so-called “Born-Alive Infants Protection Act” (HR2175) in a ceremony in Pittsburgh, PA, which will ensure federal rights for all human fetuses that are born alive, including live births that occur during an abortion procedure…The bill will amend the legal definition of “person”, “human being”, “child”, and “individual” to include “any human being who is born alive” and will consider a fetus to be born alive if its “completely outside the mother’s body and has a beating heart or shows other signs of life.” Although the bill’s language states that it is not meant to “affirm or deny” the legal rights and status of fetuses, abortion-rights activists feel that this, and similarly proposed bills, try to give the fetus personhood.”

These pro-choice groups would allow the killing of born babies by neglect or direct action rather than let the impression be given that a “fetus” is a person. Not even the baby below would be considered a “person” if he were born alive after an abortion procedure if these organizations had their way.

Even more strident is an article in the Pro-Choice Press, a publication of BC’s Pro-Choice Action Network.

Here is an excerpt from this article.

Autumn / Winter 2002 Issue

“Right Wing Extremists Lead the Free World”

Women Drowning in a Flood of Anti-Choice Measures

“But even the Democratic Senate enacted an unnecessary anti-choice law in July, called the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act. The law supposedly will protect the lives of infants who may be born alive after an abortion – President Bush signed the law in August with a strong anti-abortion speech, thereby exposing the anti-choice sentiment behind the bill.”

It’s clear that certain pro-choice organizations will not let a living, breathing baby stand between them and their support for abortion on demand at any time for any reason.

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