Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Feb 17, 2023 / 12:50 pm (CNA).
A Democrat-controlled Virginia Senate committee shot down a House-passed bill that would have required doctors to render medical care to an infant who is born alive after a botched abortion, which prevents the legislation from moving forward.
The legislation, sponsored by Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper, would have required any health care provider who performs or assists in an attempted abortion in which the infant is born alive to provide the “same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence” to preserve the life that they would to any other child born at the same gestational age. It would also require health care professionals to “ensure the immediate transfer of the infant … to a hospital for further medical care.”
The proposed bill would have also compelled hospitals to establish a protocol for the treatment and care of infants born alive after a botched abortion. It would also have required a protocol for reporting violations to law enforcement.
If a health care provider violated the law, he or she would have been guilty of a Class 4 felony, which would have carried a penalty of prison time between two and 10 years and a fine of up to $100,000. The health care provider could have also been subject to disciplinary action by the Virginia Board of Medicine.
The Education and Health Committee voted down the legislation on a 9-6 vote on Feb. 16, with every Republican supporting the bill and every Democrat opposing it. It had previously passed the House of Delegates 52-47 on Feb. 7, with Republican leadership supporting the bill and Democratic leadership opposing it.
Although the legislation was shot down without any debate, there was some debate in the Health Professions Subcommittee on Feb. 13.
“The reason why we believe this is important is because we know we have documented cases of situations where a child is born alive, and in some cases, they have been left to die after the fact,” Freitas said in defense of his proposal.
Democratic lawmakers pushed back during the subcommittee.
“A doctor in this situation would have to have another doctor overseeing him and a lawyer to make sure he wasn’t committing malpractice, which would cause him to spend 10 years in prison,” Sen. John Edwards, D-Roanoke, said during the committee.
Freitas countered the Democratic opposition by noting that doctors are required to provide care in other circumstances. He said the state needs rules in this circumstance because of cases in which “they’ve actually been left to die on the table.”
The committee’s failure to pass the legislation led to criticism from some pro-life organizations.
“Every newborn baby deserves life-saving medical care, and every woman has the right to be fully informed before making a life-ending abortion decision,” Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America’s Southern Regional Director Caitlin Connors said in a statement.
“Democrats in the Virginia Senate showed their true colors today by blocking both these commonsense provisions,” Connors continued. “It is not the first time Virginia Democrats have shocked the nation with their support for abortion on demand at any point in pregnancy and even infanticide. Voters of the Commonwealth went on to reject the inhumane stance of Ralph Northam and Terry McAuliffe and elect a pro-life governor, administration, and House instead. Yet even as polling shows a strong majority of Virginians across the board want to limit painful late-term abortions, pro-abortion Democrats are doubling down on their radical agenda. Their extremism will be exposed so their constituents can hold them accountable.”
Last year, Senate Democrats blocked similar legislation in the Rules Committee. Only one Democrat on that committee, Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax, voted with Republicans in favor of the legislation.
On Thursday, the Education and Health Committee also voted down a legislative proposal that would have required doctors to receive informed written consent from a woman prior to an abortion being performed. The bill, which also passed the House 52-47, was shot down 10-5, with Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant, R-Henrico, joining Democrats to oppose the bill.
In January, Senate Democrats also blocked three bills that would have put more restrictions on abortion in the commonwealth.
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