Mapped-out: Where It's Dangerous in America to Be Born Alive
October 07, 2019
When New York and Illinois each passed abortion expansion laws earlier this year that repealed explicit state protections for infants who survive abortion, it provoked the question: "Are infants who survive abortion in the U.S. protected?" Many pro-abortion activists contend there are already sufficient laws in place to protect such infants. Yet as Family Research Council shows in a new set of maps detailing born-alive protections and the status of later term abortion across the country, this is simply not true.
In 2002, President George W. Bush did sign the Born-Alive Infants Protection Actinto law, which clarified that any infant born alive during an abortion procedure is a full person under the law. However, it did not include any provision ensuring proper medical care would be given to infants who survive abortion. Because the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act lacked adequate legal protections, many states passed their own "born-alive laws" in the ensuing years. As of 2019, 34 states have at least some explicit protections for infants who survive abortion. However, as our research for our new maps found, only 15 states have strong born-alive protections, and only eight require reporting on infants who survive abortion. Sixteen states have no laws protecting born-alive abortion survivors. Indeed, much work remains to be done.
Because the level of protection varies greatly from state to state, there can be confusion as to what protections exist for abortions survivors. With these new maps, we hope to bring clarity to this question, further the conversation, and see more protections put in place for babies who need them.
In the map, all 34 states with born-alive protections are given a ranking of "weak," "strong," or "best" based on elements of born-alive protections currently in their law. The 15 states with strong born-alive laws meet the elements of protection set forth in the federal Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, currently pending in the House of Representatives (H.R.962) and the Senate (S.130). Shockingly, 20 of the 22 states that allow abortion through all nine months of pregnancy -- as shown in our later term abortion map -- also have some of the weakest born-alive protections in the country. States like New Mexico, Oregon, New Jersey, and Vermont allow abortion up to the moment of birth and provide no legal protections for infants who survive abortion.
Minnesota is an anomaly when it comes to born-alive laws. It allows abortion at any point during pregnancy yet has some of the best born-alive protections in the country. Minnesota is also one of only eight states that require reporting the number of infants who survive abortion. Since 2015, when the reporting law went into effect, Minnesota has had 11 cases of infants surviving abortion. Imagine the number of abortion survivors that would be reported if large states like California and New York that allow abortion up through birth had reporting requirements. Born-alive laws are not a solution in search of a problem, but rather a solution to what is likely a huge problem.
A survey of the born-alive laws currently in effect across the country reveals that while many states have some explicit legal definitions for born-alive infants, 35 do not require full medical care and legal protections for infants who survive abortion. This patchwork of state laws protecting abortion survivors will not suffice. That is why Congress must pass the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. Republicans in both chambers have taken the lead in championing this bill, but due to Democrat obstruction, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act cannot get a hearing let alone a vote in the House of Representatives. Now is the time for all elected officials to decide if they are going to stand up for the most vulnerable members of our society or else be complicit with infanticide.
As this issue continues to arise in the political arena and public conversation, hopefully our map can help shed light on what is hidden, and we can see more protections for babies who survive abortion.
To see what protections your state provides for born-alive abortion survivors, view the maps at: frc.org/prolifemap. To join the movement to protect born-alive abortion survivors, visit endbirthdayabortion.com.