The recent demise of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act has sparked a lot of outrage and hot debate about abortion and the health and wellbeing of women.
Introduced by Senator Ben Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska, the bill would enforce criminal penalties for any abortion provider that failed to give medical care to an infant born during an abortion procedure.
Recently, Democrats blocked the bill from making it to the floor for a vote. Since then, Republicans have made the media rounds to accuse Democrats of being would-be infant killers.
They reacted similarly to recent abortion bills proposed in the New York and Virginia legislatures. New York’s Reproductive Health Act, which Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law back in January, allows abortion after the 24th week of pregnancy if the foetus isn’t viable or the pregnancy risks a woman’s health.
In Virginia, companion bills introduced in both chambers of the state legislature would have allowed a single physician to sign off on a second- or third-term abortion if a woman’s physical or mental health is at risk.
Under current law, three physicians have to agree that a second – or third-term abortion is necessary before a patient can receive one. It would not, as some Republicans in state and national offices suggested at the time, have allowed physicians to abort a baby just before it crowned. Nor did Virginia’s governor, Ralph Northam, really suggest the killing of babies after birth when he spoke in defence of the bill.
Second – or third-term abortion procedures do not typically result in live birth — and even if that does happen, it’s still illegal to “execute” infants.
When an abortion is performed late in pregnancy, it’s overwhelmingly because a woman’s health or life is at risk or because the foetus has severe deformities, like anencephaly, that are incompatible with life. Northam referred to cases where a woman chooses to give birth knowing that the baby will be terminally ill.
Different factions within the anti-abortion movement prefer different rhetorical approaches, but hyperbole isn’t a new tactic. It’s relatively common for pro-life activists or groups to link abortion to infanticide, or to refer to the procedure itself as infanticide in all cases.
Some activists go even further, and speak of an abortion “holocaust.”