- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 27, 2000

The House yesterday passed a bill requiring doctors to give babies born alive during botched abortions the same care and protections as other babies.

The Born-Alive Infant Protection Act, which passed 380 to 15, was sponsored by Rep. Charles T. Canady, Florida Republican.

Only two Republicans Rep. Nancy L. Johnson of Connecticut and Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman of New York voted against the measure.

The bill says that once born, a child cannot be killed or allowed to die because he or she is unwanted an issue raised by late-term abortion procedures such as partial-birth abortion.

Mr. Canady said the legislation is necessary because "the corrupting influence of a seemingly illimitable right to abortion has brought" into question the "settled principle" that infants born alive are entitled to protections under law.

"This simple but critical piece of legislation is designed to ensure that all infants who have been born alive are treated as persons who are entitled to the protections of federal law, and to repudiate recent judicial expansions of the right to abortion that place such infants in increasing jeopardy," Mr. Canady said.

Democrats supported the measure, but said it was not necessary and accused Republicans of offering a "dishonest bill."

"The purpose of this bill is only to get the pro-choice members to vote against it so they can slander us and say we are for infanticide," said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat. "That's why I voted for it in committee, and that's why we will vote for it on the floor so we do not step into this trap."

The measure was supported by Democrats and passed the Judiciary Committee 20-1, but was opposed by the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL). Republicans hope the issue will put Vice President Al Gore in a bind.

"This is the kind of issue Al Gore can't squirm his way out of," said a Republican leadership aide.

Mr. Gore's spokesman, Chris Lehane, declined comment, saying he had not reviewed the bill.

Texas Gov. George W. Bush, who is pro-life, says he would sign a bill banning partial-birth abortions. Congress has passed such a ban three times in recent years, but President Clinton vetoed it each time.

The legislation is in response to recent court decisions involving partial-birth abortion, in which an unborn child's body is delivered until only the head remains inside of the uterus, the back of the skull is punctured with scissors and its brain is suctioned out before it is delivered.

On June 28, the Supreme Court struck down a Nebraska law that banned the procedure, extending the precedent established by the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision to include partial-birth abortion.

In addition, the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals also struck down New Jersey's partial-birth abortion ban. The court said that in contrast to an infant whose mother intends to give birth, an infant who is killed during a partial-birth abortion is not entitled to protections of the law because the woman was clearly not seeking to give birth.

"The implications of these decisions are shocking," Mr. Canady said. "Under the logic of these decisions, once a child is marked for abortion, it is wholly irrelevant whether that child emerges from the womb as a live baby."

Several nurses at a July 20 House Judiciary Constitution subcommittee hearing testified that premature infants, delivered during induced labor or live-birth abortions, were abandoned or ignored by physicians and left to die.

• Andrew Cain contributed to this article.

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