“There are many complicated debates to be had about abortion, and as unapologetic pro-lifers we want to have those conversations based on compassion and science. But infanticide isn’t complicated,” McCain and co-author Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) wrote in their Sunday essay discussing the proposed Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.
Reproductive rights advocates say the term “infanticide” is a wildly inaccurate representation of what medical professionals are actually doing.
The controversial bill, which was introduced by Sasse in January, threatened prison time for doctors who did not provide necessary medical care to an infant born alive during an attempted late-term abortion. The act failed to overcome a Democratic filibuster in the Senate last month.
“The current debate is about whether or not it’s OK to deprive newborns of appropriate medical care,” claimed Sasse and McCain, a co-host of ABC’s “The View,” in the WSJ essay. They added that “fundamental American principles demand that we protect babies from cruel mistreatment.”
In fact, doctors say that the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act was unnecessary from the start. Medical professionals report that it’s nearly impossible for infants to be born alive during late-term abortions. Additionally, many opponents of the bill noted that murder and infanticide are already illegal.
“This debate is about infanticide,” the WSJ essay said. “Planned Parenthood is defending that crime. Many in the national media are overlooking it. Democratic politicians are hiding from it. But the American people are repulsed by it. The recent vote was a missed opportunity to protect the most vulnerable among us. But it will not be the last.”
Melanie Roussell Newman, the senior vice president of communications and culture for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, called McCain’s and Sasse’s op-ed “offensive misinformation” in a statement to HuffPost.
“Senator Sasse and Meaghan McCain are lying and making claims that are not based in medicine or reality. That’s why the medical community is overwhelmingly opposed to this legislation,” Roussell Newman said. “This is yet another part of Republican leadership’s broader attacks on health care. The essay is nothing more than the tired lies, dangerous ideology, and offensive misinformation that politicians have used time and again to try to ban safe and legal abortion.”
Dr. Kristyn Brandi, an OB-GYN with training in family planning and a board member of Physicians for Reproductive Health, debunked many of the claims behind the failed bill in an interview with Vox published Monday. Brandi said that an infant surviving abortion is something “that can never happen” because of the federal partial-birth abortion ban passed in 2003.
“Under that law, something has to be done to the pregnancy to stop it from growing prior to the abortion happening, specifically to avoid the scenario where a potential pregnancy is delivered and could survive outside of the patient,” Brandi told Vox. “We have to do something to the pregnancy in order to prevent this from happening, so it’s already off the table.”
The doctor added that the problematic myths about late-term abortions often arise when people conflate abortion care with so-called comfort care by grieving parents.
“There are some patients that are in a similar scenario where their pregnancy outcome, for whatever reason, either a fetal anomaly or something in their medical situation, did not result in a pregnancy that will survive for very long outside of them,” she said.
“And so some patients elect to undergo something similar to a labor induction, which allows them to deliver what they call their baby and be able to actually spend time with it and be able to offer it comfort care,” Brandi added. “... It’s really terribly heartbreaking scenarios where it’s a desired pregnancy that people want to spend last moments with before this baby passes.”
Late-term abortions comprise only 1 percent of all abortions in the U.S. When these abortions occur, it’s usually due to extreme health reasons like the mother’s life is at risk or the child will be born with a genetic abnormality that makes life outside the womb nearly impossible.
Head over to The Wall Street Journal to read McCain’s and Sasse’s essay in full.