Born-Alive Infant Protection Act Info.
Senate Passes Born-Alive Infants Protection Act
(July 18, 2002)
PITTSBURGH (August 5, 2002) --
President Bush signs the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act as sponsors
Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) (left) and Congressman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio)
look on. White House photo by Paul Morse.
President Bush Signs
Born Alive Infants Protection Act
in Pittsburgh Ceremony Attended by NRLC Officials
PITTSBURGH (August 5, 2002) -- At a ceremony
in Pittsburgh attended by NRLC officials and other pro-life advocates,
President Bush signed into law the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, a bill
strongly backed by NRLC.
The law guarantees that every infant born alive enjoys full legal rights
under federal law, regardless of his or her stage of development or whether
the live birth occurred during an abortion.
“This important legislation ensures that every infant born alive --
including an infant who survives an abortion procedure -- is considered a
person under federal law,” the President said before signing the bill. He
added, “Today, through sonograms and other technology, we can see clearly
that unborn children are members of the human family, as well.
“The Born-Alive Infants Protection Act is a step toward the day when every
child is welcomed in life and protected in law. It is a step toward the day
when the promises of the Declaration of Independence will apply to everyone,
not just those with the voice and power to defend their rights.” (To read,
hear an audio recording, or view a video recording of President Bush’s
Among those invited to and attending the ceremony were NRLC President Wanda
Franz, Ph.D., and NRLC Federal Legislative Director Douglas Johnson. Also in
attendance were four leaders of the state’s NRLC affiliate, the Pennsylvania
Pro-Life Federation: Board President Sue Rogacs, Executive Director Michael
Ciccocioppo, Legislative/PAC Director Mary Beliveau, and Board Treasurer
President Bush was joined by a number of
distinguished pro-life citizens for the signing of the Born-Alive Infants
Protection Act on August 5 in Pittsburgh. From left to right: Wanda
Franz, Ph.D., NRLC president; the Most Rev. Donald W. Wuerl, Roman Catholic
Bishop of Pittsburgh; Hadley Arkes, Ph.D., professor of jurisprudence and
American institutions at Amherst College; Congressman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio);
President Bush; Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.); Jill Stanek, nurse and
advocate for born-alive infants; Gianna Jessen, abortion survivor, author,
and folk musician; Watson Bowes, M.D., professor emeritus of obstetrics and
gynecology at the University of North Carolina. White House photo by Paul
Also attending were a number of other persons well known in pro-life
circles, including Hadley Arkes, a Princeton professor and author who
conceived of such legislation years ago; Gianna Jessen, who survived an
attempted saline abortion in 1977; Jill Stanek, a nurse who testified before
a congressional committee about infants born alive during labor induction
abortions; and Watson Bowes, M.D., a leading authority on maternal and fetal
President Bush was flanked by the prime congressional sponsors of the bill,
Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and Congressman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), as he
signed the measure into law. (The original author of the bill, Congressman
Charles Canady of Florida, has since retired from Congress, and was unable
to attend the event because of a previous commitment.) The President was in
Pittsburgh to meet with a group of recently rescued coal miners and to
attend a political fund-raiser. Santorum previously represented a
Pittsburgh-area congressional district in the House of Representatives.
NRLC, which worked for over two years in support of the legislation,
applauded the event.
Dr. Franz, who was presented with one of the three pens that President Bush
used to sign the bill, said afterwards, “The president thanked us all for
working to achieve this legislation. I accept that thanks on behalf of
NRLC’s members and supporters all across the country.”
NRLC Legislative Director Johnson said, “This law is badly needed, because
some people in our society have convinced themselves that some newborn
infants --– particularly those born alive during abortions, or with
handicaps -- are not really legal persons. Even in stories about this bill,
we have some journalists referring to these babies by the term ‘fetus’ after
they have been born alive.”
Johnson added, “The next logical step is enactment of legislation dealing
with infants who are mostly born – the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. The
President is eager to sign that bill, as well – but the question is, will
the Senate Democratic leadership allow it to come to a vote?”
In 2000, Jill Stanek and another nurse testified before a congressional
panel that they witnessed premature infants left to die without comfort care
after early labor was induced as an abortion method.
The principle established by the bill is not limited to the abortion
context. It also bears, for example, on the question of the right to life of
babies born with handicaps.
In introducing the original bill in 2000, Congressman Canady noted, “The
principle that born-alive infants are entitled to the protection of the law
is being questioned at one of America's most prestigious universities.
Princeton University bioethicist Peter Singer argues that parents should
have the option to kill disabled or unhealthy newborn babies for a certain
period after birth. According to Professor Singer, ‘a period of 28 days
after birth might be allowed before an infant is accepted as having the same
right to live as others.’” (To read Congressman Canady’s complete statement
What the Bill Does
Babies whose lungs are insufficiently developed to permit sustained survival
are often spontaneously delivered alive, and may live for hours or days.
Others are delivered alive during attempted late-term abortions or even as a
method of late-term abortion. The bill would codify (for federal law
purposes) the traditional definition of “born alive” that is already found
in the laws of most states: complete expulsion from the mother, accompanied
by heartbeat, respiration, and/or voluntary movements. The bill would also
codify the principle that wherever the terms “person,” “human being,”
“child,” or “individual” appears in federal laws or regulations, they “shall
include every infant member of the species homo sapiens who is born alive at
any stage of development." The bill defines a child as “born alive” only if
it displays the specified vital sign(s) after “the complete expulsion or
extraction from his or her mother” -- in other words, after pregnancy has
The bill explicitly states that it does not “affirm, deny, expand, or
contract any legal status or legal right applicable to any member of species
homo sapiens at any point prior to being ‘born alive’.” In other words, the
law addresses only the legal status of infants born alive, and has no
application in either direction in debates over the legal rights of unborn
History of the Bill
When the legislation was originally introduced in 2000,
it was attacked by some pro-abortion groups.
But they later greatly muted their criticism, and did not actively oppose
the bill’s progress through Congress. However, some continued to express
discomfort with the measure in interviews with journalists.
The legislation originally passed the House of Representatives 380-15 on
September 26, 2000, but that bill was killed in the Senate by objection from
one or more anonymous senators at the end of the 106th Congress.
The legislation was reintroduced in the current Congress by Congressman
Chabot as H.R. 2175. It passed the House on March 12, 2002, by a voice vote,
and on July 18, at the initiative of Senator Santorum, cleared the Senate by
For Further Information
A letter from NRLC to the Senate explaining the need for the law, a memo to
journalists explaining why the term “fetus” is not appropriate in describing
the live-born infants covered by the law, and other documents on the
Born-Alive Infants Protection Act are
posted on the NRLC website.
To read the official report of the House Judiciary Committee on the bill,