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Arizona Law Requires Abortionists to Save Babies they Fail to Kill

Photo by Brian Wagnon

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed into law Senate Bill 1367 Friday, which clarifies existing laws mandating that children who are delivered alive during their attempted murder must be given aid by their would-be assassins.

“It’s a great day for babies in Arizona,” said Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy. The Center is a pro-life organization, which states on its website that “the sanctity of human life should be protected from it’s very beginning to it’s natural end.” However, rather than calling for that protection, CAP has instead backed bills such as 1367, as well as a host of other regulatory measures.

According to abolitionists, this legislation legitimizes the idea that babies outside the womb are more valuable than those inside. “How is it a great day for babies when it is still perfectly legal to murder them?” asked abolitionist Hannah Kangas.

Arizona law already requires all physicians to use all available means and medical skills to promote, preserve, and maintain the life of a baby who is delivered alive. According to a CAP fact sheet, SB 1367 enhances the law by “requiring the Department of Health Services to create rules concerning the minimum equipment standards and standards of care necessary to comply with the law.” The law would apply to premature babies born alive as well.

The new clarifications to the law include:

  • Adding rules for abortion clinics that establish minimum equipment standards for caring for infants delivered alive, for clinics that abort babies older than 20 weeks
  • Identifying the “appropriate standard” of care required to “promote, preserve, and maintain the life of an infant delivered alive”
  • Requiring abortionists and staff present during an abortion to certify that the baby was successfully killed in the womb and delivered already dead
  • Requiring abortionists and staff to report in detail the efforts made to care for a child in the event they fail to kill the baby before delivery
  • Defining “delivered alive” to ensure clinic staff understand which babies they are required to care for and which they can discard along with those killed successfully. According to the definition, “any baby that is breathing, has a heartbeat, is moving its voluntary muscles, or has a pulsing umbilical cord is considered alive.”

The CAP web site cites recent Center for Medical Progress videos as one reason the bill is needed. The video reveals Arizona abortionist DeShawn Taylor explaining that state law will not currently allow her to kill babies after they’ve been born, and implying that her compliance with the current Arizona “born alive” statutes depends on whether she trusts her staff to keep quiet.

“The key is you have to pay attention to who’s in the room because the law states you are not supposed to do any maneuvers after the fact to try to cause fetal demise,” Taylor said in the video. It is unclear how this new clarification to the law will prevent Taylor and others like her from continuing to ignore current statutes.

During debate about the bill, advocates argued that children who have survived the first assassination attempt have become humans worthy of a chance at life.

“The baby is no longer in the mom. The baby is no longer ‘a blob of tissue’ so obviously we want our doctors to provide medical care,” said Sen. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, who sponsored the bill.

Abolitionists have a different perspective: “The bill implies we do not need to take any action to save the life of the human being prior to birth as the child is killed in the womb,” said abolitionist Arnold Davtyan, adding that Smith’s idea that a baby ceases to be merely a blob of tissue upon birth serves to reinforce that implication.  “That is absurd,” he said.

Other opponents claimed the decision about whether to rescue the baby from death should be left up to the families and doctors whose decision it was to murder the baby to begin with.

Several mothers testified that they had chosen to destroy babies they did want, because they were convinced it was the most loving thing to do after diagnoses of severe fetal abnormalities or complications during pregnancy. These mothers said their children had died in their arms and that a bill requiring doctors to attempt lifesaving procedures would have robbed them of those moments.

Herrod responded, “As difficult as this is, these (the women’s testimonies) are still decisions to have an abortion. What this law is saying is if the baby survives the abortion, the baby deserves to live.”

Though the bill is aimed at abortion providers, a good deal of the opposition was centered around the problems that might arise for premature babies and their families. Many opponents argued that the bill would require physicians to perform unnecessary steps to save babies who had no chance of survival anyway.

“Using our most recent statistics babies born at 20-21 weeks gestation have a zero percent chance of survival,” said Dr. Peter Stevenson, the neonatal medical director at Scottsdale Healthcare Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in a letter to the House Committee. “Compulsion or perceived compulsion to provide additional therapies which are futile and outside standard of care, and which only serve to cause pain and suffering to the fetus/infant, the family, and the providers, is unconscionable and counter-productive.”

On a Facebook event page protesting the bill, pro-choice activist Kristy King, who supports the “right” to actively kill preborn babies, nonetheless denounced SB 1367 as “fetus torture” and stated, “The implications of this are horrifying. Imagine delivering a non-viable preemie and rather than being able to hold and grieve, the preemie will be subject to any and all life prolonging measures and medical procedures.”

Kangas pointed out the inconsistency of King’s position, saying “King calls it the ‘fetus torture bill’. Yet she is perfectly fine with murdering the baby as long as it happens inside the womb. How is that not fetus torture?”

Though the debate was emotional, no one argued that the right to murder children should be prohibited or abolished to begin with. Arguments on both sides presupposed that abortion in and of itself is a given, with the only disagreement centered on what should be done with a baby that an abortionist fails to kill.

According to pro-life leaders of the Center for Arizona Policy, “SB 1367 strengthens Arizona law to protect infants born alive from being mercilessly left for dead.” It will not, however, protect any children from being mercilessly killed before they are born.