- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 20, 2002

President Bush is expected to sign a bill passed by Congress ensuring that every infant born alive is considered a person under federal law a move that supporters say will prevent the practice of "live-birth" abortions.
The bill was aimed at infants who have survived an abortion attempt or are too undeveloped to survive.
Supporters of the bill say it is necessary to prevent so-called "live-birth" abortions, where the doctor induces premature labor and, if the baby is alive after birth, it is allowed to die.
A nurse who worked at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Ill., testified before the House Judiciary Committee Constitution subcommittee that doctors at the hospital used the procedure in the past, and that live infants sometimes were left alone to die in a utility closet, without even basic comfort care.
Proponents of the bill, which was approved by unanimous consent in the Senate late Thursday, say it is needed because there has been an erosion of the legal rights of born-alive infants.
"Some newborn infants, especially those who are born alive during abortions, have been treated as nonpersons," said Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee. "This bill says that every infant born alive, even during an abortion and even if premature, is a full legal person under federal law."
Democrats have said the bill, which passed the House in March, is unnecessary because current law already protects infants born alive. In the past, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat and ranking member of the Constitution panel, has called consideration of the bill a "show for anti-abortion extremists."
Mr. Johnson said that when the bill was initially introduced in 2000, some pro-choice lawmakers fought it. But, he said, "Once they thought through the implications of that they backed away."
In the end, he said, "None of them were willing to vote against it. How does one?"
The bill ensures that infants are protected by federal law, and that violators would be subject to criminal charges.
Under the bill, the legal definition of "person," "human being," "child" and "individual" under federal laws and federal agency rules would include any human who is born alive, meaning he or she is completely outside the mother's body and has a beating heart or shows other signs of life. Thirty states and the District of Columbia have similar laws on the books.
The bill specifically states it is not meant in any way to "affirm, deny, expand or contract any legal status or legal rights" regarding the unborn.
"Thank God [Senate Majority Leader Tom] Daschle has done something right," Sandy Rios, president of Concerned Women for America, said of the South Dakota Democrat. "We are grateful that he finally brought this legislation to the floor and that the Senate has voted to protect innocent young lives."
"We strongly support it and are pleased that they passed it," said White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan, who also said the president will sign it.
The measure passed the Senate 98-0 in June 2001 as an amendment to the Patients' Bill of Rights legislation, which has since been stalled in conference.
"This legislation marks an important step in protecting the lives of all newborn infants," House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Wisconsin Republican, said after the bill's Senate passage. "Like the gruesome practice of partial-birth abortion, 'live-birth abortion' shocks the conscience of America and tramples upon sound and compassionate medical practices."
Pro-life groups were happy about the bill's passage, but one had a warning for Mr. Daschle.
Michael Schwartz, CWA's vice president for government relations, said, "If Tom Daschle ignores the people's agenda and refuses to bring the partial-birth abortion ban to the Senate floor during this term, we'll know this display of respect for the public was just a fluke."
The House is set to vote soon on a bill that would ban partial-birth abortion.

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