June 9, 2016
by Senator Ben Sasse and Jill Stanek
In the ancient world, unwanted babies were routinely exposed to the elements and left to die. Too often we congratulate ourselves that we live in more enlightened times. But the aching truth is that millions of today’s babies are disposed of in a far more brutal and efficient manner.
Just three years ago, Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell was convicted of murdering newborns. Court documents revealed that Gosnell made millions of dollars over 30 years, performing as many late-term abortions as he could. His business model was simple: offer abortions to women who couldn’t get them elsewhere — because they were too pregnant. He delivered living, breathing, struggling newborns, killed them with scissors, and discarded them like waste.
Because Dr. Gosnell destroyed his medical files, relatively few cases could be prosecuted. However, court documents indicated that Dr. Gosnell induced an abortion on a 17-year-old woman who was seven and a half months pregnant. “Baby Boy A” was breathing and moving, weighing in at close to six pounds when the abortionist severed his spine. Gosnell joked that this baby was so big he could “walk me to the bus stop.”
Despite the fact that Americans on both sides of the abortion debate were horrified to learn about Gosnell’s cruelty, federal law does not adequately protect a born child who survives an abortion. Some say these protections are unnecessary, but we know grim reality says otherwise.
We know abortionist Kermit Gosnell routinely murdered abortion survivors, and there may be others out there like him. We know abortion survivors have been put on shelves to die without medical assessments or assistance in hospitals’ soiled utility rooms.
We know that just recently, a baby was born alive and breathing in a Phoenix abortion facility, and a staffer told the 911 dispatcher that they could not provide all of the necessary emergency care. The clinic did not have the full complement of equipment on hand and needed emergency responders to come and perform medical care. That baby was pronounced dead at the hospital.
We recoil from Dr. Gosnell’s actions and the neglect of infants because of one beautiful and inescapable truth: Babies are babies. They are not choices to be made, cells to be disposed, or tissue to be sold. They are babies — meant to be welcomed and rejoiced over, embraced and nurtured, held and loved. That’s not a partisan statement — it’s a human reality.
Our national debate about abortion will be heated but, whenever possible, we should look for consensus. On this basic reality we must agree: No child should end her life cold and alone, struggling for her last breath inside an abortion clinic.
These brutal examples provide an opportunity to set aside our differences on abortion policy and and establish protections for babies who are born alive. Every baby deserves a fighting chance. That’s why the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act matters. With the help of medical professionals, babies 25 weeks into pregnancy have ever-increasing odds of living healthy, fruitful lives. This legislation would simply ensure that a newborn who survives an abortion gets her chance by making sure that she receives the same medical attention that would be offered to any other premature baby at the same age. After receiving immediate care, babies would be immediately transported and admitted to a hospital.
This law would require doctors and nurses to follow through on their Hippocratic oath: to heal and help, according to their skills and ability. It would require health-care providers to interrupt a brutal moment with hope and healing — or face criminal consequences.
The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act has already passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a bipartisan vote of 248 to 177. Its passage into law would be a step toward a truly enlightened future in which all human life, at every stage of development, is precious and given the full protection of the law.
As Americans, we can’t help but cheer for those who battle the odds. We side with the vulnerable. We fight for the minority. We protect the powerless from the powerful. Three years after Dr. Gosnell’s conviction, little girls and boys are fighting for their lives. They deserve our compassion and protection.
— Ben Sasse is the junior senator from Nebraska and the sponsor of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. Jill Stanek serves as the Susan B. Anthony List’s National Campaign chairwoman and, as a former nurse, has held a baby left to die after surviving an abortion.?