But What If She’s Not Dead?

Should Abortion Providers Be Required to Care for an Infant They Fail to Kill? A Commentary on Our Culture of Death

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Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell and Ken Ham comment on a bill that would require abortion providers to ensure emergency medical care and transportation to a hospital for failed abortions.

Video footage of a Florida legislative committee meeting with a Planned Parenthood representative is making the rounds on YouTube—watch the following video from YouTube (we have no control on ads displayed during the video):

The committee members are considering a bill that requires abortion providers to ensure emergency medical care and transportation to a hospital in the event a failed abortion drops a live baby in their hands. The answers offered by the lobbyist for the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates shocked the legislators and now are shocking YouTube viewers.

Asked by several representatives to clarify what Planned Parenthood physicians would do if a failed abortion left a baby “struggling for life” in their hands, the lobbyist maintained that she did not know but insisted the “decision should be between the patient and the health care provider.” When asked how anyone could object to a doctor being obligated “to transport a child born alive to a hospital” where it might survive, the Planned Parenthood representative objected that rural abortion clinics might be 45 minutes away from a hospital and so should be under no obligation to provide such a service to the misbegotten babe.

Given that the woman and the physician involved in such a scenario would have been, until moments before, attempting to kill the child in question, we are not surprised that Planned Parenthood doesn’t want to be committed to changing gears midstream—shifting from dealing out death to fighting for the baby’s life. A live baby delivered in an abortion clinic setting after a failed abortion is generally stressed (from the procedures inflicted upon it, prematurity, or both) and in need of emergency care. Therefore, in a facility where death rules, it would be much easier to simply finish what the abortionists and reluctant mother had started, if by no other means than neglecting such a baby until it succumbs and dies like it was supposed to do.

Legally, parental rights to refuse resuscitation (life-saving intervention) of newborn infants are limited. Legal precedent for this was established in the Texas Court of Appeals in the case of Miller v. HCA (2003).1 Furthermore, federal law—the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002—establishes personhood for all infants born “at any stage of development” who breathe, have a heartbeat, or “definite movement of voluntary muscles,” regardless of whether the birth was due to labor or induced abortion.2 The law affirms that an infant is “a person under the law—regardless of whether the child’s development is believed to be, or is in fact, sufficient to permit long-term survival.”3 And the law’s purpose, in part, was “to repudiate the flawed notion that a child’s entitlement to the protections of the law is dependent on whether that child’s mother or others want him or her.”4

Federal law clearly requires such babies in hospitals be accorded care and protection. And the federal law is clear that personhood protection applies to babies expelled or extracted from the womb as a result of induced abortion. The proposed Florida law would guarantee that this law’s protection reaches babies inadvertently born in medical facilities such as abortion clinics outside of hospitals.5

A physician, however, is ordinarily permitted to make a medical judgment as to whether resuscitation of an extremely premature infant is warranted. This decision regarding viability of a small baby is not as black-and-white as some might think, and there is strong evidence that health care professionals significantly underestimate “the rates of survival and freedom from handicap for all gestational ages”6 and tend to “incorrectly estimate survival and disability rates” for extremely low birth weight infants.7

An abortionist is highly unlikely to be a neonatologist, the specialist best qualified to make on-the-spot assessments about the appropriateness of aggressive life support. Therefore, from a purely medical point of view, the baby “struggling for life” in an abortion clinic should be given an opportunity for life. But are those who have a vested interest in the baby’s death likely to err toward giving such a baby an opportunity to go on living, at least without a law requiring they do so? Furthermore, at the risk of questioning the professional judgment of any medical professional, we must wonder whether a physician who is being paid to kill an unborn baby might be vulnerable to a significant conflict of interest in judging the best course of action should a baby marked for death escape.

Some maintain that “Voluntary Surrender of Infant” and “Safe Haven” laws8 (already in place in most states) and the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act would protect the child implicitly “abandoned” by a mother attempting to have the baby aborted. However, though the Planned Parenthood lobbyist in the video mentions these laws, she then insists the mother and abortion-provider should be able to decide the baby’s future. Clearly she does not think these laws obligate Planned Parenthood to assume responsibility for protecting the child, as evidenced by her repeated (though euphemistic) assertion that the very people who were attempting to destroy the child’s life (the woman and the health-care provider) have the option of either helping the unwelcome baby or putting “it ” out of their misery.

The lobbyist’s claim that abortion clinics should not be required to take responsibility for a misbegotten baby’s life because a hospital might be too far away is specious. If a “client” suffered a complication from an abortion, her life would merit emergency life support and transport, so why not an unexpected baby?

Scenarios like that, highlighted in this legislative committee meeting, call attention to the aspect of abortion that is socially unacceptable even among many pro-choice (also known as “pro-abortion”) people. Once a living viable baby crosses the threshold beyond the reach of the currently illegal practice of partial birth abortion, no one can ignore the fact that this heretofore unseen victim is a real helpless person. Such “failed abortions” are a rare but inconvenient reminder of the murder that is taking place every time an abortion is performed.

How did we come to this point in our modern enlightened society? Consider the obvious barbarity of partial-birth abortion and the callous resistance of abortion providers to an obligation to assist an inconveniently born baby struggling for life—are these the marks of civilized society? And frankly, is there any real difference between these visible victims and the invisible millions (over 50 million) “successfully” aborted in the United States since Roe v. Wade in 1973, not to mention those in the rest of the world? How did we become such a culture of death?

The Bible tells us that death is an enemy—one that God will someday destroy. “The last enemy that will be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26). For an abortion provider, however, death is a marketable product. And a woman seeking an abortion may believe that death is her friend, the solution to her problem. For the evolutionist, death is even the key to progress.

Evolutionist Carl Sagan wrote, “The secrets of evolution are death and time.”9 The evolutionary worldview is a scientifically unverifiable attempt to explain life without God. Death is very real, but no amount of time could allow life to come from non-life and molecules-to-man evolution to take place—the evolutionary worldview remains a presumptive but unproven concept. An atheistic worldview declares that death has always been here. And a theistic evolutionary worldview goes so far as to blame death on a God who would, contrary to His own Word, use millions of years of death, disease, and suffering to produce us. But that is not what God’s eyewitness account says. After God finished his work of the creation of the universe and all life (including the first two people), He declared everything He made as “very good” (Genesis 1:31).

We know from biblical history that God created the first man and woman in His own image and gave them a choice—to obey Him or not. He only imposed one rule as a test of obedience: don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And the deadly consequence of rebellion was no surprise. God gave a very clear warning, “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die’” (Genesis 2:16–17). Really, we could call the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” the tree of death! Adam and Eve had a choice—life or death.

Had they obeyed that simple command, Adam and Eve could have had access to the tree of life forever and continued to enjoy perfect fellowship with God in a perfect world. When our first parents opted to rebel against God, they opted for death. They yielded to Satan’s temptation in following the serpent’s instructions over God’s, and death entered the perfect world God had made. Satan is in essence a “god” of death!

The Devil is God’s enemy. He has, according to Scripture (Isaiah 14:12-15), long sought to usurp God’s glory and authority. And the Devil is also the father of lies (John 8:44), a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44), and the enemy of man (1 Peter 5:8). Jesus Christ offers life, but the enemy of God and man ever seeks to kill and destroy (John 10:10).

Thus, through the ages, many cultures worshiping pagan gods—which is just a way of falling for the Devil’s lies and serving him—have practiced human sacrifice. The Old Testament records the pervasive practice of child sacrifice in the land of Canaan, where inhabitants burned their children alive in the arms of the idol Molech. In later years, the most corrupt kings copied those horrible practices. And such child sacrifice was common in the ancient world. Yet with an abortion death toll of over 50 million in just 40 years, is America any better? Is not rampant abortion just a sanitized form of sacrifice like that offered to Molech?

In reality, much of the culture today worships the “god” of death. Over 150 years ago, Darwin wrote, “Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows.”10

From an evolutionary perspective, generations in our culture have been taught that humans are just animals, and that death is a normal part of life. Is it any wonder so many people don’t look on killing a baby in its mother’s womb as any different from killing an animal? After all, killing an animal is considered normal in this world of death—so why not kill babies (helpless animals, according to most evolutionists) in their mother’s womb?

Within America and elsewhere, God’s people—Christians—need to join their voices in prayer for the eyes of many to be open to this truth: our culture of death is a culture that serves our enemy the Devil. While we continue to seek reversals in the legal protection for the murder of the unborn and to push for protection of the nearly born and the just-born, we must also encourage those around us to “choose life” in another way. Jesus Christ is not only the Creator of life but also the Savior who gave His own life to redeem us from the deadly decision to serve the Devil. We may choose life in Christ, or we may remain in bondage to the enemy. And if America and other nations are to change from the destructive path that already decrees the death of countless unborn babies and sacrifices the lives of helpless millions on the altar of personal autonomy, we must pray that many will indeed choose life.

For more information:

This information is intended for general education purposes only and is not intended as professional medical advice. The information should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice from your doctor or other healthcare professional. If you have specific questions about any medical condition, diagnosis, or treatment, you should consult your doctor or other healthcare provider.


  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK11389/
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK11389/
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK11389/
  4. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/116/4/e576.abstract
  5. See http://www.law.uh.edu/healthlaw/perspectives/2006/(LH)BAIPA.pdf. At the time of this writing, 25 states have laws requiring physicians to provide medical care for born-alive infants at any stage of development, and three others require physicians to provide care for viable infants. One (Virginia) has a law specifically protecting born-alive infants from deliberate action intended to kill. And as a case of an abortionist currently on trial in Pennsylvania illustrates, others may recognize such actions as homicide. See page 289ff in Defending Life 2013, http://aul.org/featured-images/AUL-1301_DL13%20Book_FINAL.pdf .
  6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK11389/
  7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK11389/
  8. https://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/statutes/safehaven.cfm
  9. Carl Sagan wrote, “The secrets of evolution are death and time—the deaths of enormous numbers of lifeforms that were imperfectly adapted to the environment; and time for a long succession of small mutations that were by accident adaptive, time for the slow accumulation of patterns of favorable mutations.” (Carl Sagan, Cosmos, 1980, New York: Random House, p. 30.)
  10. Darwin, C., On the Origin of Species, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, p. 490, 1964


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