An Important Bill

I’m very shocked that this doesn’t exist yet:

The legislation, cosponsored by dozens of Republicans, would create criminal penalties for doctors who allow infants to die rather than providing medical care after attempted abortion procedures. It mandates that a child born alive in an abortion clinic be transported to a hospital for further care. Health-care practitioners must report any violations of the law, and the bill institutes penalties for intentionally killing a newborn, including fines and up to five years’ imprisonment.

Up to five years? For murder? I’m not getting this. How is it different from any other murder?

I don’t see how anybody can be against this bill at all:

The bill’s text doesn’t mandate any particular kind of care at all; it requires that physicians “exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as a reasonably diligent and conscientious health care practitioner would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age.”

Let’s see how things develop but I hope the bill passes unanimously.

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16 thoughts on “An Important Bill”

  1. I understand your point at an emotional level, but not at a practical level.
    (1) People have been given less than 5 years for murder.
    (2) The law violates a constitutional guarantee against self-incrimination.
    (3) The law is unenforceable in many situations. What doctor is going to say, “the baby was born alive and I killed it”? They simply need to add a cause to death certificate (if born in a hospital) or dispose of the body if born elsewhere.
    Ultimately, I see this as part of the on-going effort to criminalize abortion and that it may raise the barriers to doctors going into obstetrics, reducing the availability of care to those who need it and raising costs.
    I also see this as part of the legislative pechant for passing unenforced or unenforceable laws and undermining respect for law.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right now, if a baby is born alive and allowed to die of dehydration. This is completely legal as I discovered today, and nobody conceals it. My hair stands on end from these revelations.

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      1. Time to ask Dreidel to come in. What I would say, being old, is that actually more newborns and premature babies are saved now than were in the fairly recent past. I used to know all my grandmother’s nurse friends, and she was born in 1892 so they were from the olden days, and they had all these sad stories about sick babies who were born but did not live because there was no known treatment. They would have heated discussions about this because sometimes drs. would decide not to prolong life and in each case it was hard to judge how wrong or right this had been. Now I know people who had similar babies who were saved via first harrowing months in NICU, and are now fine. Some of them though can be kept alive but only in vegetative state + pain. There you get the ethical dilemma again.

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  2. The bill only targets abortion clinics, not hospitals, midwives or anyone else. The bill specifies that the baby has to be born alive and healthy, which in the case of abortion, the odds are less than 1 in 10,000 of that being true. It would have to be a late term abortion, which isn’t legal in most states. This is anti-abortion showboating, and it would only have possible application in New York. Even there, the doctor simply has to make sure the baby isn’t alive, and, not to sound cold, but that’s easily done.

    Frankly, if the parents and medical professionals are in agreement as to the proper course of action, I don’t see where the law should be involved at all. Even with this law, it wouldn’t be. Who would report it? Some busybody who doens’t have a clue as to what’s going on?

    Reality and US law aren’t consistent. Doctors face situations involving terminally ill adults and children where the law makes no sense, and in cases act according to conscience, not law. The result can be good or bad. The law allows medical directives, but doesn’t require doctors or hospitals to follow them. Conversely, any effort to alleviate suffering with a terminally ill child usually ends up in court — and the person bringing it to court, as in one famous case involving Bush Jr. may not have any relationship or legal interest in the case. In that case, the person filing suit wanted no part in caring for the child or in paying the financial costs; instead just wanted the parents and doctors to pursue a useless, painful and expensive course of action.

    The people who push these laws don’t care about the living. They don’t care that in some area of Alabama, residents have to drive between 2 and 4 hours to get to a hospital, and midwives are illegal as well, so that a lot of children are born at home without medical attention and die as a result. No they don’t want to fix that. The US has the highest rate of infant and mother mortality among industrialized countries. They don’t want to fix that, either. Instead, they trumpet a little piece of legislation that will affect almost nobody. What a waste at so many levels.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My mother was in hospice when she died. She had DNR order. She had already stopped eating and drinking for the most part, did so on her own, and there was a lot of morphine and Ativan available but not a lot of it was used. She would get “agitated” and I think that meant she had pain (she died of cancer) and they would give her Ativan. I really don’t think they gave enough drugs to hasten death in a meaningful way but they sure had the means.

      It’s hard to tell what to do. A cousin, nurse aged 93, announced she would intentionally OD on hospice morphine when the cancer pain got too bad, and knew enough to predict what week that was likely to be. I can’t criticize this. In the case of my father, I don’t know what to think. If he dies of his swallowing problem, it will be by drowning which is painful, and they will not feed/hydrate because of DNR order, so it will be of hunger/thirst too. If all of this turns out that way and is true, I won’t stop the hospice people from being aggressive with drugs, despite not liking this idea.

      (Morbid thoughts for Monday night, eh?)

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      1. My father had dementia and was kept alive in a nursing home for more than five years in a vegetative state and contrary to his DNR. There’s a point when lawmakers and do-gooders need to back off.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Okay, setting aside emotional feelings, here’s a look at the current federal post-abortion law on the books, and the new proposed bill in the House and Senate:

    The current federal law (the “Born-Alive Infants Protection Act” passed in 2002) defines in specific medical terms what “born alive” means (as opposed to being in some part of an abortion procedure or birth process). But then the law simply states in very general terms that the “born-alive” infant must be legally considered a “Person, human being, Child, Individual,” and has the same human rights as “any child born within the United States.” The only medical restriction that this law places on the person performing the abortion is this: “Decisions may continue to be made by medical professionals as to whether to resuscitate an infant based on medical efficacy, but not in regard to the legal standing of the patient.”

    So as a practical matter under the current federal law, a single “medical professional” (who in some states is not required to be a physician) in a stand-alone abortion clinic can allow a “born-alive” child to die with no required post-birth input from any other person (including the mother, who may be under anesthesia or heavy sedation).

    The proposed bill (“Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act”) places specific additional requirements on the “health care practitioner” to “(1) exercise the same degree of care as reasonably provided to any other child born alive at the same gestational age, and (2) ensure that such child is immediately admitted to a hospital.”

    So the proposed bill adds two very significant new requirements: that more than one medical professional will be involved in the fate of the “born-alive” child, and that appropriate hospital-level care will be available if resuscitation of the newborn infant is medically indicated.

    The new law does NOT require unconstitutional self-incrimination. It requires “a health care practitioner or other employee who has knowledge of a failure to comply with these requirements must immediately report such failure to an appropriate law enforcement agency.” Obviously, a hospital would have various “practitioners [and] employees” around to observe the situation.

    You can argue that the proposed bill places a difficult burden on poor women in rural locations who have legitimate reason to obtain an abortion — and this is true. But it also adds safeguards to prevent infanticide by unscrupulous practitioners after medically unnecessary abortion procedures.

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    1. Do you know how common such infanticides are, really?

      ( The horror stories of my youth run in 2 directions: 1/ drs. practicing infanticide because child was of color / poor, when they were actually somewhat viable and 2/ drs. insisting on saving for a short period someone’s in very bad shape child that they would not even have conceived had they had access to birth control, and who later died in bad circumstances as the rest of the family disintegrated. This debate was never resolved although narrating it, one sees that the issue really is autonomy of 1 MD … so my question becomes how common this all is, what the law is really aimed at [per Vic Crain])

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    2. Exactly. Especially since the new NY bill doesn’t require a medical professional to perform the abortion. There are tons of quacks in the birthing industry who assist in home labor and babies die. I’m afraid the abortion industry will also generate a crowd of quacks after this bill.

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  4. “Do you know how common such infanticides are, really?”

    No one knows how common or rare unreported criminal infanticides are — how could statistics be gathered? — but they do occur. (Google “Dr. Kermit Gosnell” for a graphic example of multiple “born alive” murders.) When multiple doctors insist on saving a “very bad shape child…who later died in bad circumstances,” the doctors’ actions are bound as much by the law as by their own medical ethics. If they fail to take active measures to save the child, they risk losing their medical licenses and perhaps significant further legal penalties.

    The same is true in many cases for physicians who insist on keeping terminally ill patients alive. When I was a young civilian doctor, I heard tales of older doctors secretly performing “mercy killings” on suffering patients who had begged the doctors to end their suffering. (“Mercy killings” were easier to carry out without detection decades ago, because fewer autopsies on elderly patients were conducted, and autopsies in general were less medically sophisticated.)

    In some states today, doctors and medical care facilities can still face profession-ending consequences if they obey DNR requests by the patient or competent family members and let the patient die. I’m VERY much in favor of “death with dignity” laws that allow terminally-ill adults to voluntarily request to be allowed to die, or even receive medication to hasten their death. But until such laws are on the books, doctors’ hands are legally tied.

    As for what the laws dealing with late-term abortions — and let’s be honest, “born-alive” babies who survived abortion — are really aimed at: Sure, you have bad actors on both sides. Some of its proponents ultimately want to outlaw ALL abortions under all circumstances, regardless of the mother’s health. And some of its opponents will never acknowledge that at some point during pregnancy, a fetus becomes a “baby,” an unborn human being whose life deserves consideration.

    Every law ever passed is a slippery slope in one direction or another. That’s why in a democracy, all laws should be decided by debate and compromise, and not by decree or adherence to a rigid ideology. “All-or-non solutions” are for melodramatic fiction, not the complexities of real life.

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    1. Do you mean DNR orders aren’t legally binding? Both times my father has gone to hospital for minor heart issue they withdrew food/drink, because he has swallowing problem and they say they are bound to keep him safe (not choke) and follow DNR order. It is weird because he walks, talks, reads, watches tv, goes to dining room for meals — he’s not at death’s door and I am not being over-hopeful. NOW he has signed paperwork saying he wants to eat even if it means he risks choking, but I have been pretty amazed at their willingness to non-feed a live and kicking person alleging DNR. Non capisco.

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      1. @Z 08:53

        “Do you mean DNR orders aren’t legally binding?”

        Laws vary from state to state as to the validity of DNR laws, as well as the specific situations in which they can be applied.

        Note that reader Vic Crane states in his 21:56 comment above that his father “was kept alive in a nursing home for more than five years in a vegetative state and contrary to his DNR.”

        I’m aware of several situations where medical facility staff have disobeyed family/patient DNR requests because the staff was afraid of being in professional or legal jeopardy if they let the patient die.

        The situation that you describe with your father is not a DNR situation! DNR situations apply only to unconscious, acutely dying patients requiring CPR and perhaps other dramatic procedures such as intubation. (There’s some miscommunication between your family and the hospital staff that needs to be cleared up, if your family hasn’t already done so.)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. This was the reason for the paperwork. Due to DNR he will not have intubation and they claim they are risking his life by letting him eat. Finally a compromise was reached such that he can eat some things and has taken responsibility for what may happen if he eats other things. What they claim to be afraid of is being accused of irresponsibility by letting him eat things he could choke on. He says diet of smoothies is no quality of life, and the heck with them.

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  5. “Here is a discussion, also by a doctor…and it’s of the abortion issue. Important.”

    Yes ,it’s a heartfelt discussion by two obstetric physicians stating their viewpoint that late-term abortions are both less rare, and are more medically necessary than the general public believes.

    They’re half-right: There are some legitimate late-term abortions that are absolutely necessary to save the mother’s life, or to terminate a clearly non-living fetus. But there are also abuses by late-term mothers who simply consider the life that their’re bearing within in them — and at a certain stage, the fetus HAS developed into a second living human being worthy of legal protection — to be a nuisance to be cast aside at will because they’re merely depressed or upset about being pregnant.

    The current federal law of 2002 provides some (but insufficient) safeguards against such abuse. The recently passed NY law weakens those safeguards substantially in that state, and is prompting the attempted corrective response at federal level.

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