By M.H. Cavanaugh
Christian Action League
April 24, 2019
RALEIGH – The official website of Governor Roy Cooper states that he is honored to serve as Governor of the Tar Heel state. It adds, “He understands the challenges facing our families and communities and wants to build a North Carolina that works for everyone.”
But Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, says that the claim by Cooper’s website is hollow.
“One standard by which God judges societies is the way they treat their most vulnerable,” said Creech. “Is there anything more defenseless, more exposed, more helpless, than an infant extracted or completely expelled from its mother and has come into this world unwanted and the result of a botched abortion procedure?”
Creech added, “Cooper’s veto of the Born-Alive legislation shows he fails to understand what it takes to build a North Carolina that works for everyone. If it doesn’t work for an infant, if the life of a born-alive child isn’t protected, no life is safe.”
Last week, Governor Cooper vetoed SB 359 – Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protect Act. The legislation, for purposes of state law, ensures that an infant born-alive as the result of a failed abortion procedure is a “person,” regardless of whether or not the infant was targeted for abortion. In these circumstances, the measure requires a medical practitioner to provide care despite the object to abort the baby.
Cooper said the reason for his vetoing the legislation was because, “Laws already protect newborn babies, and this bill is an unnecessary interference between doctors and their patients. This needless legislation would criminalize doctors and other healthcare providers for a practice that simply does not exist.”
Senator Joyce Krawiec (R-Davie), champion of SB 359, however, strongly disagrees with the Governor. In a press release, Krawiec explained how current North Carolina law does not cover born-alive infants and why SB 359 is needed. Krawiec argued:
“There has been significant attention paid to the inaccurate claim that existing North Carolina laws already cover what’s in the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. Here is what existing law covers and what existing law does not cover.
“Existing law covers:
- Death of an unborn child, other than an abortion — this applies, for example, if a pregnant woman is murdered or attacked in a manner that results in the death of her unborn child (G.S. 14-45.1);
- Involuntary manslaughter, which is killing another human being by a culpably negligent act or omission (G.S. 14-18) — more on this one later;
- Second degree and first-degree murder, which is intentionally killing another human being with malice and, in the case of first-degree murder, premeditation (G.S. 14-17).
“The involuntary manslaughter statute does not clearly apply to caring for an infant after a botched abortion. That is because a healthcare provider has no legal duty to provide care to the infant, which would make prosecution under the involuntary manslaughter statute very difficult. The Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act creates that legal duty to provide care to the infant.
“Additionally, previous legislatures have updated the criminal code to specifically clarify ambiguities in the involuntary manslaughter statutes and to enhance penalties for actions that could fall under those statutes. G.S. 14-32.2, for example, adds active abuse of a patient at a health care facility to the criminal code. Presumably, the legislature added that language because it wasn’t clear that such abuse could be criminally prosecuted.
“The same principle applies to the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. (Note that G.S. 14-32.2 would not apply to children born- alive after abortion because the statute requires active abuse, not passive failure to provide care.)
“What the new law would cover:
- Updating the criminal code to create a duty to care for an infant after a botched abortion (this duty does not currently exist in law);
- Creating a felony for health care providers who violate the duty to care for an infant after a botched abortion.
“The nonpartisan Legislative Analysis Division exists to weigh in on just these types of questions. Regarding the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, the nonpartisan Legislative Analysis Division wrote: ‘The deliberate killing of infants, including those who have survived an attempted abortion, is a criminal offense. There are currently no laws requiring an affirmative duty of care to preserve the life of infants who survive attempted abortions.
“Some commentators have cited statutes regarding secret disposals of child remains as an example of law that covers what is in the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. Those statutes are not related to the duty of care of medical providers and could not be used to prosecute failure to care for an infant after a botched abortion.”
Creech said that there would likely be an attempt in the General Assembly to override Cooper’s Veto. But he added any attempt would be more difficult now that Republicans no longer have supermajorities in both chambers.
“I think it can be done. However, it will take all of the Republicans, and some of the Democrats, to override,” said Creech. “It can happen but it will require, I think, a strong grassroots movement. Republican constituents under Democrat lawmakers need to urge them to vote for an override. Moreover, pro-life Democrats, and there are some, need to prevail on their Democratic lawmakers to support the override.”
Two Senate Democrats voted for SB 359, Senators Ben Clark (D-Cumberland); and Don Davis (Pitt). All Senate Republicans voted for the measure.
Four House Democrats voted for SB 359, Representatives James D. Galliard (D-Nash); Charles Graham (D-Robeson); Garland E. Pierce (D-Hoke); and Kandie D. Smith (D-Pitt). All House Republicans voted for the bill.
Creech said counting votes could get sticky because you hope certain people will be there for the vote. “But if we can keep the votes we got in the Senate, the bill can be overridden in that chamber. And if we can keep the votes we got in the House, we will still need to pick up about four more Democrats,” he said.