Nearly 600 US Babies Have Died After Botched Abortions Since 1999

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by Christine Niles  •  •  February 27, 2019   

Numbers could be much higher

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WASHINGTON ( - A federal database contradicts Democrats' claims that federal law protects babies born alive after botched abortions, showing that nearly 600 infants have died from failed abortions over the course of 20 years.

The argument was used by multiple Democratic senators to justify their refusal to vote in favor of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which failed to overcome a filibuster by a vote of 53–44 Monday. Every Democrat senator — including all six presidential hopefuls — voted against the measure.

"It is, and always has been, a crime not to" protect infants born alive after abortions, said Democrat Sen. Maizie Hirono (HI).

"It has always been illegal to harm a newborn infant," said NY Sen. Chuck Schumer. "This bill has nothing to do with that." 

But the official figures contradict their claims, revealing that hundreds of infants have been given no legal protection after failed abortions, instead left to die without medical assistance.

The WONDER database from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows that from 1999–2017, 592 infants have died after being born alive after abortions.

CDC database results for infant deaths after failed abortions from 1999–2017

The CDC designation for deaths after abortions is code P96.4: "This code implies a medical termination of the pregnancy. When 'termination of pregnancy' or 'abortion' is the only reported cause of an infant death, the death is coded to P96.4," the CDC explained to the American Center for Law and Justice after a query in 2014.

A search for all infant deaths under code P96.4 yielded the results in the above table. The actual numbers could be far higher, as the CDC figures only take into account reported cases of infants born alive after abortions. Media reports have made clear that abortionists have deliberately failed to report such infant deaths, e.g., Kermit Gosnell, convicted in 2013 for murder, after evidence showed he routinely over the course of 30 years killed babies born alive after abortions, most often by cutting their spinal cords with a pair of scissors.

Congressional testimony from 2016 also indicates the practice of infanticide is far more widespread than thought.

Testifying before the House Select Investigative Panel of the Energy and Commerce Committee, one employee who assisted in abortions in Texas facilities said:
[D]uring a typical week with a full patient load ... [Abortion Doctor #3] would perform abortions at 20 or more weeks gestation ... on approximately 40 patients. ... Approximately three or four infants would show signs of life. ... Of the three to four infants terminated in a typical week by [Abortion Doctor #3] while showing signs of life, on average, approximately one or two would be put to death after they had left the birth canal entirely.

Another employee testified "that she learned from a coworker of an infant killed by the doctor after surviving an abortion; as he was preparing to put it into a bag for disposal, she maintained, the infant had 'opened up his eyes and grabbed his hand.'"

Planned Parenthood, which rakes in more than $1 billion annually, half of it coming from taxpayer dollars, slammed the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act before the vote.

"This legislation is based on lies and a misinformation campaign, aimed at shaming women and criminalizing doctors for a practice that doesn't exist in medicine or reality," said President Leana Wen. Wen stepped into the role as head of the abortion giant last year after former CEO Cecile Richards retired. Richards made approximately $1 million in salary as head of Planned Parenthood.

The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act was proposed after New York passed a radical abortion law that not only removed practically all restrictions on abortion up to the moment of birth, but also protected abortionists who allowed babies to die after failed abortions. Shortly after passage of the law, multiple states proposed their own radical abortion legislation, including Virginia, whose law ultimately failed to pass.

Virginia's Gov. Ralph Northam was criticized for comments at the time justifying infanticide. During a radio show in January, Northam said, "If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that's what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother."

"The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act prohibits exactly the kind of infanticide that Gov. Northam was endorsing," said Republican Sen. Ben Sasse (NE), sponsor of the bill, during comments on the Senate floor Monday. 

Democrats had claimed that the 2002 Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which declares that newborns are human beings with full legal protections, was sufficient to protect babies. The 2002 law, however, had no teeth, and contained no criminal penalties for abortionists who failed to save babies born alive after abortions. 

Sasse's measure would have required the same level of care for babies born alive after botched abortions as in any other circumstance, and would have criminalized doctors who failed to help such infants.

Without criminal consequences, the statistics make clear abortionists have been able to escape justice by allowing infants to die without medical assistance, and Democrats, by failing to support the measure, are facilitating what critics call infanticide.


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