Vitals Reporting on the pro-life movement

Abortion survivors push for infant protections

Abortion | More babies are at risk than previously realized
by Samantha Gobba
Posted 9/03/19, 12:11 pm

When Texas legislators considered a bill earlier this year requiring medical care for babies who survive an abortion, news outlets reported the state had received no reports of such cases happening. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, called a similar effort in his state “redundant” and “not a productive use of time.” And a spokesman for North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said a proposed bill to protect abortion survivors, which Cooper, a Democrat, vetoed, “would criminalize doctors for a practice that simply does not exist.”

But a network of abortion survivors begs to differ. Melissa Ohden survived a saline abortion in the summer of 1977, and her mother’s family secretly placed her for adoption. Ohden discovered the truth about her birth when she was 14 and later founded the Abortion Survivors Network, which she said has about 300 members.

Data supports the incidence of babies surviving abortions.

Earlier this month, Fox News reported data from Arizona, Minnesota, and Florida that showed 40 babies were born alive after attempted abortions from 2016 to 2019. Nationwide, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 143 infants died between 2003 and 2014 after surviving an abortion.

“Even though the pro-life movement has known about survivors and a little bit of the data, the reality is the mainstream culture at large has not known about us,” Ohden told me.

In Minnesota, doctors reported 11 babies born alive after an abortion since 2016. Arizona officials reported 10 in 2017, and Florida reported 19 since 2017, including two this year.

Radical late-term abortion laws started the conversation.

Concern about medical care for abortion survivors arose earlier this year after states began adopting radical laws that allow abortions up until the moment of birth. In a discussion over a late-term abortion law in Virginia, state Delegate Kathy Tran and Gov. Ralph Northam, both Democrats, appeared to support infanticide. Soon after those remarks, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, signed a bill requiring doctors in the state to give “appropriate medical treatment” to babies born alive after an abortion. The law, which took effect Sunday, imposes a fine of at least $100,000 for doctors who violate it.

Abortion survivor and pro-life advocate Gianna Jessen said if abortion survivors aren’t real, then it wouldn’t hurt anyone to pass the legislation.

“We know, of course, that it does [happen], and we know that they know that it does,” she told me. “I think that it is an incredibly horrific use of time to leave a baby, any baby, to die, without care. But to leave a baby who has the will and tenacity to live through someone attempting to end its life, there is a coldness there that is unfathomable to me, and a wickedness that is beyond description.”

But even pro-life advocates didn’t realize how many abortion survivors existed.

The news of 40 babies born alive after abortions has surprised some pro-life advocates. John Smeaton, chief executive of the U.K.-based Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, called it a disturbing realization that more babies survive abortion attempts than he had ever imagined. Connor Semelsberger, an attorney with the U.S.-based Family Research Council, told Fox News the numbers are “a lot higher than we’d ever suspect.”

Ohden encouraged her fellow abortion survivors to speak up for life.

“Somehow, I have the right to an abortion, but I never had the right to live in the first place? That’s really absurd,” she said. “And I think our culture has to hear those kinds of stories. The stories of survivors, the stories of women who regret their abortion, the abortion workers, they have to hear those stories that have been silenced in order for us to change.”

iStock/monkeybusinessimages iStock/monkeybusinessimages Two teenage girls check a pregnancy test.

Across the nation

Indiana: A parental notification law will remain under a restraining order after a federal appeals court sided with a lower court’s decision to block it. Pregnant girls wanting an abortion can get the procedure without parental consent if they have permission from a judge, but the 2017 law required them to notify their parents. Additionally, a South Bend abortion facility will remain open despite not having a state license. A lawsuit is pending over the state’s refusal to issue a license.

Missouri: U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs blocked a law that sought to protect unborn babies after eight weeks of gestation. It was scheduled to go into effect Wednesday. Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, said in a statement the ruling was “a travesty of justice and an insult to the democratic process.”

New Jersey: A state appeals court has allowed an assisted suicide law to take effect while a lawsuit challenging it proceeds. The law was on hold after Yosef Glassman, an Orthodox Jewish physician, filed suit, saying it violated his religious freedom. The law requires doctors unwilling to prescribe life-ending drugs to transfer patients to doctors who are.

Alabama: On Friday, Madison County Circuit Judge Chris Comer dismissed a lawsuit brought by Ryan Magers, a father who sued the Alabama Women’s Center in Huntsville for the wrongful death of his baby. He had filed suit on behalf of his unborn child, “Baby Roe.” —S.G.

Associated Press/Photo by Aleks Furtula Associated Press/Photo by Aleks Furtula A panel of judges presides over a euthanasia trial in the Netherlands.

Forced euthanasia

A doctor in the Netherlands is on trial for the forced euthanasia of a 74-year-old woman with dementia. The woman had requested euthanasia in writing before doctors proclaimed her mentally incompetent. When they tried to euthanize her, however, she resisted. The doctor is accused of telling the woman’s family members to hold her down while he forced her to drink a cup of coffee containing the life-ending drugs.

Last year, the Dutch Board of Procurators announced it would prosecute the doctor for unethical conduct. Prosecutors are not seeking punishment for the now-retired doctor, but a legal precedent.

“A crucial question to this case is how long a doctor should continue consulting a patient with dementia, if the patient in an earlier stage already requested euthanasia,” prosecution service spokeswoman Sanna van der Harg said. “We do not doubt the doctor’s honest intentions.”

The decision could have worldwide ramifications. The Netherlands has pioneered euthanasia, and Canada or some U.S. states that allow the practice could follow suit in allowing the forced euthanasia of dementia patients. —S.G.

Oregon leaves Title X

Oregon joined the states of Washington and Vermont last week in rejecting federal Title X family planning funds. In January, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services updated Title X of the Public Health Service Act to ensure no federal family planning dollars would pay for abortions—in line with the original intent of the law. Nearly two dozen state attorneys general filed suit against the changes, but in June, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allowed the rules to go into effect. Several other states threatened to leave the program. —S.G.

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Samantha Gobba

Samantha is a former WORLD correspondent.

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  • Janet B
    Posted: Tue, 09/03/2019 02:21 pm

    Re Title X:  we will see the pro-death states for what they are with this new HHS policy.

    Just as we can see the pro-death stances of the judges in Indiana, Missouri and New Jersey.