WASHINGTON (April 22, 2005) - The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced plans to vigorously enforce violations of the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act. The Act ensures that any infant who is fully born and shows signs of life is considered a human person entitled to the full protection of the law -- whether or not the baby is born during a failed abortion.
Congress passed the Born-Alive Act with overwhelming bipartisan support in 2002 after hearing jarring testimony about the delivery and neglect of living infants during failed abortions. Nurses at Christ Hospital in Illinois, for example, testified that numerous babies were born alive and then left to die, sometimes in soiled utility closets, including infants with non-fatal disabilities as old as 23 weeks' gestation.
"Roe v. Wade may currently leave our country helpless to defend infants moments before birth, but even now we can and must protect those struggling for their lives outside the womb," said Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Esq., Director of Planning and Information for the USCCB Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities. "We applaud the Department of Health and Human Services for initiating this important and humane effort."
In today's announcement, HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt vowed to "investigate all circumstances where individuals and entities are reported to be withholding medical care from an infant born alive in potential violation of federal statutes." HHS has also advised state agencies which receive grants under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act to respond to reports of medical neglect of live-born infants.