Friday, October 17, 2008

A question about born alive babies and criminal charges

Somebody came to my blog after searching for "Why are there no felony prosecutions in illinois for children born alive during abortions who then die?"

Well, it turns out that in Illinois, the law Barack Obama said already protected babies who survived abortions — 720 ILCS 510.6 — applied only where an abortionist declared before the abortion that there was "a reasonable likelihood of sustained survival of the fetus outside the womb." In other words, all the abortionist would have to do is declare before performing the abortion that the fetus would not survive, and presto! Even if it did survive, even if it turned out to be full-term and perfectly healthy, legally the baby would be considered "pre-viable" and thus not entitled to medical care.

But babies in places other than Illinois should be okay, right? Well, maybe not:

  • Ximena Renearts (pictured) was born alive in a Canadian hospital, shortly after her mother had undergone an abortion in a clinic in Washington state. The attending nurse put the baby, gasping and shivering, into a bedpan, and left her in a utility closet to die. Multiple medical professionals were involved in the decision to deny the baby medical care and to simply wait for her to die. Over an hour later another nurse rescued her and sent her for proper care. Many citizens were outraged at this attempted murder, but it became clear that there would be no prosecution due to abortion politics. A police spokesman called the case "bullshit", not worth investigating. A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health defended the choice to try to kill Ximena, saying, "As you know, this Ministry is very much in favor of giving women choices about their reproductive health." And had Ximena died, there wouldn't even have been an autopsy to determine whether or not she'd have survived had she been given care. BC Chief Coroner explained that his office only got involved if a death was "unexpected". In an abortion, he explained, the baby is expected to die. So the death of a baby born alive after an abortion is not considered worth investigating. (Hearken back to the police spokesman who called public outcry for an investigation "bullshit".

    So clearly, the attitudes of the people involved in health care and law enforcement play a role in these decisions.

  • Before legalization, one of the problems prosecutors had in getting convictions was the difficulty in proving that the fetus had been alive at the time of the abortion. Remember, in America you are innocent until proven guilty. So, in order to prove that the abortionist hadn't simply been removing a fetus that had died already, the prosecutor had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the baby had been alive. Imagine trying to prove this! All you would need is a sympathetic juror and an attorney who points out that none of the state's witnesses had put their hands on the pregnant woman's belly and felt fetal movement!

    A similar dynamic plays out in cases in which live-born babies are left to die. They are extremely premature in most cases. How can the prosecutor prove that it was the neglect, and not extreme prematurity, that caused the baby's death? How can you prove that the baby would have lived, had he or she been taken to the NICU? All you can do is bring out charts showing survival rates, which prove only that the baby might have survived. This was the idea behind the Born Alive Infants Protection Act, which doesn't require that you prove that the care would definitely have saved the baby's life. All you'd have to prove is that other babies the same gestational age would have been provided with the care, which is much easier to prove.

    There is a case playing out right now in Florida that will show how hard it is to prosecute these cases. A baby was born alive at a freestanding clinic. Multiple staff, as well as the mother, saw the baby moving. The clinic owner, Belkis Gonzalez (pictured), put the baby in a biohazard bag and tossed her on the roof of the building. An autopsy showed that the baby had been born alive. But will prosecutors believe that they can prove that it was being put in a biohazard bag and tossed on the roof in the hot sun that killed her? Will a juror sympathetic to the abortion cause hold out, claiming that Shanice would have died from prematurity anyway?

  • Yes, a juror can really bog down a case that way. William Baxter Waddill (pictured) strangled a 32-week baby girl in front of multiple witnesses, including a pediatrician and several NICU nurses. His trial resulted in two hung juries because some jurors clung to an obscure legal definition of "death". They said that while the baby died of manual strangulation, not of prematurity or abortion injuries, they still felt that the prosecution couldn't prove that Waddill had caused Baby W's "death" under this legal definition of death.

    Considering how Gianna Jessen, Jill Stanek, and now Sarah Palin are coming under attack merely for pointing out that these things happen, can you imagine the firestorm an Illinois prosecutor could expect if he tried to pursue murder charges against an abortionist?

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    Christina said...

    "As you know, this Ministry is very much in favor of giving women choices about their reproductive health."

    This is really funny...because of course, after the baby is born there is no HEALTH effect on the mother.

    All the HEALTH effect is on the baby.

    Christina Dunigan said...

    Well, her reproductive choice was, after all, a dead baby. At least this Canadian health minister admits it.