Democratic Senators Refuse to Outlaw Infanticide

February 11, 2021 Updated: February 17, 2021


With the exception of Sens. Joe Manchin and Bob Casey Jr., Senate Democrats just endorsed infanticide. OK, perhaps that’s a tad overstated. The more charitable view is that they just aren’t opposed to killing some babies.

Here’s the story: For the third year in a row, Democrats filibustered passage of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) tried to insert into the COVID-19 relief bill. The amendment needed 60 votes but only received 52—all 50 members of the Republican caucus and the two aforementioned Democrats.

Why would 48 senators refuse to oppose infanticide? Is the proposal a surreptitious attempt to impose “The Handmaid’s Tale”—that tired feminist cliché about women forced to carry babies they don’t want—on an unsuspecting public? Hardly. The bill wouldn’t force any woman to do anything with her body. Indeed, it wouldn’t prevent a single abortion.

Rather, the bill would require health care practitioners present when a baby survives abortion to exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as they would “render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age.” It would also require abortionists to ensure that surviving babies be “transported immediately to a hospital for care,” and would outlaw “an overt act” meant to kill “a child born alive,” i.e., it would outlaw infanticide.

Ooh, how radical! Here comes the patriarchy!

This is a very big deal. Infanticide has long been considered one of humanity’s great evils. We properly disdain the ancient Roman and Greek practice of exposing unwanted infants to the elements. German doctors who euthanized disabled babies during World War II were rightly branded as monsters. A few were hanged for their murders after the Nuremberg Doctors trials.

Today, infanticide is no longer necessarily a crime. The Netherlands—which has embraced voluntary euthanasia—also permits Dutch pediatricians and obstetricians to lethally inject babies who are born with terminal or seriously disabling conditions. These infanticides aren’t a secret. They aren’t done furtively, or even, with a sense of shame. Indeed, it is all done in the open under a bureaucratic infanticide checklist known as the Groningen Protocol (after the Groningen University Medical Center, where doctors wrote the set of rules).

But who are we to get on our high horse? Roe v. Wade and the bioethics movement have pushed our society in the same direction by denigrating the moral importance of gestating human life and diminishing the worth of the unborn as killable and disposable as mere medical waste—including babies who are viable.

That’s not fair, Wesley! Roe v. Wade ruled that state laws could set limits on third-trimester abortions. Indeed—but it certainly did nothing to outlaw late-term abortions nor require states to enact such laws. Recently, some blue states passed laws allowing no gestational time constraints on abortion, statutes that don’t violate one i-dot or t-cross of Roe v. Wade.

Vermont’s law makes that right absolute, stating starkly, “Every individual who becomes pregnant has the fundamental right to choose to carry a pregnancy to term, give birth to a child, or to have an abortion.” That means healthy, viable babies could be terminated at eight months, 30 days gestation, and nothing could be done to stop it.

And what are we to make of this provision? “A fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus shall not have independent rights under Vermont law.” This utter objectification of unborn life would fully authorize the horrible fetal-part selling practices in which Planned Parenthood was caught engaging.

It would also permit experimentation on living fetuses. Don’t say that would never happen because it already has. In 1968, researchers kept an aborted baby alive for five hours in a liquid containing oxygen. The experiment won the Foundation Prize Award from the American Association of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Meanwhile, some of the world’s most respected and influential bioethicists argue for the propriety of infanticide. Princeton University’s utilitarian moral philosopher Peter Singer is the most (in)famous of these. Indeed, he became world-renowned precisely because he argues that infants aren’t “persons,” because they are not self-aware, and thus, a newborn baby should be allowed to be killed if that furthers the interests of the parents or the baby in preventing suffering. Some in bioethics make the infanticide connection explicit by referring to infanticide as “after-birth abortion.”

We also mustn’t forget that in 2019, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam—a pediatric neurologist!—opined that a baby who survived an abortion could be neglected to death, stating in a radio interview: “If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”

So, once again, infanticide and unwanted baby neglect have become respectable—at least on the left flank of politics and among leading members of the medical intelligentsia. In accepting baby-killing by refusing to outlaw it, Senate Democrats besmirched the foundational moral principle of the West that all—including babies—are endowed with the equal right to life; not because they are healthy, not because they are wanted, but simply and merely because they are human.

Award-winning author Wesley J. Smith is chairman of the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism and a consultant to the Patients Rights Council.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.