By Jeff Caruso, Executive Director, Virginia Catholic Conference

 On Monday, February 25, the U.S. Senate failed to pass the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (BAASPA). Virginia’s U.S. Senators Warner and Kaine voted against the bill. After the vote, Senator Kaine called the bill “extremely misleading” and “unjustified and unnecessary.”

Senator Kaine’s comments serve as a distraction to what the bill provides: concrete protections for extremely vulnerable infants who survive an abortion. If we cannot all agree that these most vulnerable children deserve specific protections under the law, then who does deserve such protections? In their joint statement after the vote, Bishop Burbidge and Bishop Knestout stated they were “dismayed and outraged that Virginia’s U.S. Senators Warner and Kaine voted against this critical lifesaving legislation.” They noted, “That this bill did not pass unanimously – let alone even pass at all – is appalling and beyond comprehension.”

In light of the shocking action in New York – and possibly other states to follow – to remove legal protections for infants born alive during abortions, the BAASPA is clearly and critically needed now more than ever. The previously passed Born-Alive Infants Protection Act was a good start, but it was insufficient. The 2002 measure codified into law that newborns, regardless of the circumstances of their birth, are legally recognized as persons from the moment of birth if they show any signs of life. However, the 2002 law has no enforcement provision or specific protective measures for these infants. The BAASPA, on the other hand, provides clear expectations of care, requirements for transfer from abortion facility to hospital, mandatory reporting, private right of action and criminal penalties. The need for clear legal protections for these infants’ lives must be met head-on, and the BAASPA was the way to get there.

According to a February 2019 “Responses to Objections” publication by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities on the BAASPA, “Unfortunately, there are numerous examples of abortion-performing doctors who did in fact leave a baby to die after a ‘failed’ abortion.” The piece cites the infamous case of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, who bragged about “snipping” the spines of newly born babies. It also mentions cases in which babies were wrapped in blankets and set aside to die, or stuffed into plastic sacks to suffocate. “Survivors,” the publication notes, “have poignantly told their stories of being dumped in a bucket of formaldehyde in a utility closet, saved from strangulation, and other direct and indirect methods of ensuring the ‘abortion’ is completed.”

The BAASPA rightly insists that a doctor must – in the best interest of the child – provide the same care for a newborn child born of an abortion as he or she would for any other child born at that same gestational age. It also provides enforcement measures to protect these most vulnerable infants and the legal teeth necessary to hold doctors accountable. As the USCCB notes, “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 such an evaluation must be made, and it must be made in a hospital setting by someone who has not been paid to end the life of this same child.” How can we trust an abortionist to protect a newborn after he or she was paid to kill the child and failed?

There is nothing misleading, unjustified or unnecessary about this bill; it provides lifesaving justice for these infants and demonstrates our national resolve to end infanticide.