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GALBRAITH: When is it ethical to deny medical care to infants?

Planned Parenthood says denial is not murder, but choice

- - Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Planned Parenthood lobbyist Alisa Lapolt Snow provoked well-deserved backlash last month for testifying in opposition to Florida legislation HB 1129, which awards infants born alive within the context of abortion the same rights of infants born alive via natural birth. The proposal specifically requires the abortion facility to provide lifesaving care to such infants and mandates transportation and admission of the newborn to a hospital.

When questioned regarding Planned Parenthood's intention for a born-alive child that has survived an abortion, Ms. Lapolt Snow stated that "any decision that's made should be left up to the woman, her family and the physician." She further lamented the "logistical issues" presented by requiring Planned Parenthood to transport the newborn to a hospital that may be up to 45 minutes or an hour away. Many in the room stared in stunned disbelief, their mouths agape in horror, a response that reverberated across the nation.

Barbara A. Zdravecky, board chairwoman of the Florida Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, found her organization in the unenviable position of being portrayed as advocating infanticide and scrambled to Ms. Snow's defense. She touted the superior medical care that Planned Parenthood provides women and craftily excluded any mention of abortion services. She also assured the public that in the "vague set of extremely unlikely and highly unusual medical circumstances" presented by the legislature, "of course Planned Parenthood would provide appropriate care to both the woman and the infant."

This response raises the question: If the proposed provisions would be applied unquestionably, why is Planned Parenthood so vehemently opposed to the bill?

Ms. Lapolt Snow's testimony exposes the truth of Planned Parenthood's agenda, which has not strayed from the ideology of its founder, Margaret Sanger: elimination of the unwanted, unplanned and undesirable. They artfully employ buzzwords of "promoting women's health" and "supporting women's autonomy" to peddle their wares of eugenics and racism. However, what tenable "autonomy" or "women's health" argument exists to deny lifesaving support to a born-alive, fully delivered infant or to require the transportation and admission of the infant to a hospital?

Australian philosophers Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva published an article in the February issue of the Journal of Medical Ethics, "After-birth abortion: Why should the baby live?" that sent shock waves around the globe. Yet in America, Planned Parenthood has endorsed similar ideology and tacitly acknowledged that the law should not distinguish between taking the life of an unborn and a born-alive infant within the abortion context. They argue that if the mother and her physician determine that a born-alive, fully delivered child should be denied medical attention and left to die, no one should dare to interfere with that decision.

This novel ideology justifying infanticide framed a court decision in Canada last year in which a mother delivered and then killed her newborn child. The court reasoned that because the defendant, Katrina Effert, was legally permitted to take her child's life within the context of abortion anytime before birth, then why not after? Alberta Court of Appeals Justice Joanne Veit overturned the second-degree murder conviction and replaced it with infanticide, sentencing the defendant to a three-year suspended sentence, a trivial penalty for strangling a newborn child. Would the ruling have been different had the child survived for a few hours, days, weeks or months? There is no sure footing on this slippery slope.

While we rightly disavow with horror Planned Parenthood's justification of infanticide as barbaric and cruel, how many of us condone aborting the unborn by vacuuming, scraping or dismembering them to deliver their little bodies piece by piece? In the United States in 2010, 1,270 babies were reported to have died after surviving abortions, and it has been estimated that nearly 33,000 survivors of abortion are alive today. This scenario clearly is not a "vague set of extremely unlikely and highly unusual medical circumstances," and born-alive infants deserve the same chance at life as their aborted brothers and sisters. There is no difference between taking the lives of the unborn by abortion and denying a born-alive child lifesaving care and treatment: Both are killing, and neither is justifiable.

Joanna Galbraith is a former prosecutor and staff attorney with Life Legal Defense Foundation.