NATIONAL RIGHT TO LIFE
ON ANNOUNCEMENT BY D.H.H.S.
ON BORN-ALIVE INFANTS PROTECTION LAW
(April 22, 2005) -- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) today
announced certain steps to improve compliance with the Born-Alive Infants
Protection Act, a law enacted in 2002 with strong support from National
Right to Life.
In a press release, Mike Leavitt, secretary of Health and Human Services,
said, "Congress had received testimony that some infants who had been born
alive after unsuccessful abortions were left to die. . . . The Act reaffirms
the legal principle that all infants born alive are entitled to the full
protection of the law. That is a principle I will vigorously uphold as
Secretary. . . . We took the first of these educational steps today by
notifying relevant entities that we aggressively enforce federal laws that
protect born-alive infants. We issued clear guidance that withholding
medical care from an infant born alive may constitute a violation of the
federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act and the Medicare
Conditions of Participation."
NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson commented, "The 2002 law and
today's actions by the agency were both badly needed, because there are
those in our society who have convinced themselves that some newborn infants
-- particularly those born alive during abortions, or with handicaps -- are
not really legal persons."
The law [Public Law 107-207] established that in all federal laws and
regulations, the words "person," "human being," "child," and "individual"
include "every infant member of the species homo sapiens who is born alive
at any stage of development." The law also defines "born alive" as meaning
"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, cesarean section, or induced abortion."
When he signed the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act on August 5, 2002,
President Bush said, "This important legislation ensures that every infant
born alive -- including an infant who survives an abortion procedure -- is
considered a person under federal law." He added, "Today, through sonograms
and other technology, we can see clearly that unborn children are members of
the human family, as well."
The National Right to Life website includes a page on the Born-Alive Infants
here. This page includes the text of the law, the official report of
the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives on the
legislation, congressional roll calls on the bill (98-0 in the Senate and
380-15 in the House of Representatives), and discussions of some errors that
have occurred in past news media coverage regarding this issue.