HB 16: Babies should be given medical care after “failed” abortion

Testimony given by Bishop Patrick Zurek, Amarillo

Regardless of the circumstances of his or her birth, any baby merely by virtue of being born is a legally-recognized person. Under this bill, he or she must be treated like any other premature infant and given medical care appropriate to his or her age and needs. Actively or passively killing these newborns is infanticide and should be condemned by all people.

Texans overwhelmingly support the protection and care of babies born alive, no matter what the original intent was while the baby was still in utero. The so-called right to “terminate a pregnancy” does not also guarantee a right to a dead child. This bill therefore provides greater enforcement mechanisms to help ensure that a baby fully outside of his or her mother is no longer subject to abortion laws and is now a new patient in his or her own right.

There is absolutely no risk to infants in asking doctors to use the same standard of care they would prudentially use with any other infant born at that gestational age. The only action being dictated is to care for the infant. The bill does not mandate futile care or override the judgment of a doctor about whether treatment is in the best interest of the child, but it does insist that standard care be provided.

It is true that criminal and civil laws demand physicians not commit homicide or malpractice, however since abortion itself creates a gray area when a baby is meant to have been killed by abortion, it is not unreasonable for state law to clarify that a fully born baby must be given life-saving medical care.

We believe that this bill makes it crystal clear that the professional whose job is to end pregnancies and by so doing kill babies may not fail to render aid to a child who is born. The provision requiring transfer to a hospital is critical. An abortion facility is clearly not equipped with the necessary medical equipment to assist or evaluate a premature infant. In fact, they rarely have even basic resources to assist the woman herself if she experiences complications from the abortion. When a complication arises, adult female patients are frequently transported to local hospitals. If abortion clinics don’t have the equipment for their primary patients (adult women), it is much less likely, close to impossible to believe, that they would have specialized equipment

appropriate to the care of preemie babies. Furthermore, philosophically one might wonder how objective an abortionist can be when their job was to end the baby’s life thus they may wish to avoid the complications of a living infant. It is clear that more enforcement and greater clarity is needed.

While live births during or after an abortion may be rare, they do happen and the decision about whether these babies are cared for or left to die is a fundamental measure of our society’s respect for human life.  We support this bill that allows the State of Texas to express profound respect for the dignity of all human life regardless of age, stage, disability or prognosis. This bill reflects the reality that care can, and should be, be provided for these most vulnerable children.