Among the noble goals of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, H.R. 619, introduced in both chambers of the 117th Congress, is one that has been overlooked: It would help preserve — or at least partially restore — the integrity of the medical profession.
That is a goal that we, Dr. Kathi Aultman, a former abortionist, and Fr. Frank Pavone, a priest and full-time pro-life leader, are committed to work for.
In Dr. Aultman’s view, it is dangerous to put physicians in the position of killing their patients. Although most obstetricians are trained to do abortions, unless they opt out based on conscience, the vast majority don’t continue to do abortions once they are in private practice because they view the whole procedure as abhorrent.
Those who continue to do abortions are ideologues who don’t see unborn children as human beings, which allows them to justify killing them. The goal of abortion is not to relieve a woman of her pregnancy but to kill the baby, so a baby who survives is nothing but a dreaded complication.
We have laws against infanticide, but they are rarely enforced in the case of abortion survivors, leaving nothing to prevent an abortionist from withholding care and passively allowing a child to die. We know this occurs because we have heard testimony from those who survived only because someone disobeyed orders and rescued them.
Allowing this “passive” infanticide corrupts the very foundation of medical ethics. Is it any wonder that abortionists feel justified in taking that next step and actively committing infanticide? They know there is really no difference between a baby in the womb and one who is born, so why shouldn’t they kill him or her if they happen to survive?
Outside the abortion industry, few would dispute that when a child survives an abortion and is now living and breathing outside the womb, to purposely withhold treatment and allow the child to die or to actively kill her is murder.
Murder is the antithesis of medicine.
The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act would not only protect the child but also safeguard the integrity of the medical profession. This very point was made in the bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush in November 2003, protecting babies from Partial-Birth Abortion, a procedure in which the child is killed in the very process of delivery.
The text of that bill, H.R. 4965, mentions the impact on the physician and medical profession several times during the discussion of this now-outlawed abortion technique.
The text reads: “Partial-birth abortion also confuses the medical, legal, and ethical duties of physicians to preserve and promote life, as the physician acts directly against the physical life of a child, whom he or she had just delivered, all but the head, out of the womb, in order to end that life.
“Partial-birth abortion thus appropriates the terminology and techniques used by obstetricians in the delivery of living children—obstetricians who preserve and protect the life of the mother and the child—and instead uses those techniques to end the life of the partially-born child.”
The “medical, legal and ethical duties of physicians” were incompletely delineated in the 2002 Born-Alive Infants Protection Act. That law, also signed by President Bush, spelled out that once a child survives an abortion, he or she is a legal person protected by the laws of the United States.
What that law did not do was require that action be taken to care for that child or enact penalties for those who failed to do so.
There is no doubt that children sometimes survive abortion. We have statistics from the CDC and several states, we have eyewitnesses from the medical community, and we have hundreds of such survivors living as adults in our midst.
The reporting we currently have is limited, however, and we don’t know what is happening to the majority of these babies who live through abortions. The worst cases sometimes find their way to the national consciousness, like that of Kermit Gosnell and Pierre Renelique, but for the most part, we are in the dark about what transpires when a child survives an abortion.
What we fail to acknowledge is what abortion does to its practitioners. Dr. Aultman said in an interview that she was devastated when she realized that abortion was murder and, therefore, she was a “mass murderer.” She related that although she knew that God forgave her, it took much prayer and healing to be able to forgive herself.
Priests for Life has worked with many abortion providers who have left the business and come away with deep wounds that can take years to heal but are never forgotten.
We both recognize that abortionists not only have to dehumanize the babies they are killing — born and unborn — but they have to dehumanize themselves as well. And part of that dehumanization is inaction. If we know this killing of children is happening and we do nothing; we are complicit in it.
The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act would restore human dignity to the babies it saves, but it could also prove to be the first step back for these medical professionals who likely never imagined finding themselves holding a newborn and deciding how he or she should die. It would also be the first step in restoring the integrity and conscience of our society. For the sake of these children, and of the medical profession, let’s contact our legislators and urge them to pass this long-overdue bill.
• Dr. Kathi A. Aultman, M.D. is a retired obstetrician/gynecologist and a former abortion practitioner who now advocates for the right to life. Fr. Frank Pavone is the national director of Priests for Life.
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