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Politics & Policy

Planned Parenthood Opposes Kentucky Bill that Would Protect Newborns Who Survive Abortion

(Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

In Kentucky, a bill to protect newborns who survive an attempted abortion has made it to the desk of Democratic governor Andy Beshear, who is expected to veto the measure. Beshear vetoed an earlier iteration of Senate Bill 9 when it reached his desk last spring.

The bill is titled “An Act relating to the protection of born-alive infants and abortion and declaring an emergency,” and it requires that doctors provide medically appropriate care to any infant born alive after surviving an attempted abortion procedure. The measure is similar to a piece of federal legislation, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which Senate Democrats have blocked on the floor for the last two years.

Kentucky’s legislation defines infants born alive after an attempted abortion as legal persons, and it states that “it is not an infringement on a woman’s asserted right to terminate her pregnancy for this Commonwealth to affirm its interest in protecting an infant whose live birth occurred as the result of an attempted abortion.”

The bill points out that, without legal protection, these infants could be denied appropriate life-saving or life-sustaining medical care — in other words, there is currently no legal consequence for leaving such an infant to die of neglect. Despite claims to the contrary from abortion advocates, there is plenty of evidence such situations occur.

The measure would prohibit health-care professionals from depriving born-alive infants of nourishment for any reason, including that the infant “was born with a disability” or “is not wanted by the parent or guardian.” It also forbids denying such infants “medically appropriate and reasonable medical care, medical treatment, or surgical care,” and it requires physicians who perform abortions to “take all medically appropriate and reasonable steps to preserve the life and health of a born-alive infant.”

As with the federal born-alive bill, abortion-rights activists are intensely opposed to Kentucky’s legislation, in spite of the fact that most Americans support laws protecting newborn infants from neglect. Though nothing in the legislation circumscribes abortion access in any way, abortion proponents insist that born-alive bills are an infringement on “women’s health care.”

At a hearing last week before Kentucky’s House Judiciary Committee, Dr. Brittany Myers testified on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, the group’s local affiliate, urging lawmakers to vote against Senate Bill 9. According to the affiliate’s Twitter account, Myers told the committee that “this bill’s intent is to shame patients and threaten healthcare providers” an asserted that it would force providers “to intervene and attempt to resuscitate what this bill is calling a ‘born-alive infant,’ but in actuality what, in medical terms, is referred to as a non-viable fetus.”

Here Myers is wrong both on the facts of the bill and on human biology, a curious thing for a medical doctor. Nowhere does the bill require doctors to attempt to resuscitate any infant, let alone an infant born early enough to earn Myers’s dehumanizing label “non-viable fetus.” Instead, the bill prohibits doctors from denying “medically appropriate” care; it leaves each individual doctor free to determine what medical treatment is appropriate for any given infant of a certain gestational age or medical condition.

What’s more, Kentucky’s bill explicitly militates against the point Myers raises, stating that its provisions should not be construed as requiring parents to assent to treatment that “is not medically appropriate or reasonable,” including that which “is not necessary to save the life of the infant, has a potential risk to the infant’s life or health that outweighs the potential benefit . . . or will do no more than temporarily prolong the act of dying when death is imminent.”

In testifying against Kentucky’s bill on such spurious grounds, Planned Parenthood’s “expert” exposed that the abortion group has no legitimate reason to oppose born-alive legislation. Instead, abortion providers oppose legal protections for abortion survivors because allowing the law to protect a nearly aborted infant the moment after birth raises a troubling question: Why shouldn’t we protect that same human being just a moment before?

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