Opinion

New Mexico Republican kills born-alive abortion oversight bill

Baby at 20 weeks
via NMlegis.gov

via NMlegis.gov

Last time protection for born-alive infants was in the news, Democrats rallied to oppose it. But in New Mexico this week, it was a Republican, Rep. James Smith, who cast the deciding vote to kill such legislation in committee.

Republican Rep. Rod Montoya had introduced a bill known as a “memorial,” a legislative recommendation without the force of law, which would have urged state health officials to coordinate efforts to monitor possible abortions of born-alive infants. There are not specific allegations against a particular New Mexico provider for doing this (though one woman claimed to have seen it in the past), but there is evidence that abortion facilities in the state are guilty of other forms of misconduct, particularly the late-term abortion facility Southwestern Women’s Options. SWO has been the subject of multiple abortion-complication emergencies and shockingly advises women to deliver dead babies alone in hotel rooms after being given abortion drugs.

But sure, thinking that it might be worth checking whether such sterling health providers are committing other violations is just crazy talk.

That was enough for Smith to cry foul. “If you were bringing a bill banning late-term abortion, I’d be with this,” he said, but “we don’t know if anybody is potentially violating this,” and besides, “it puts too much burden on people going through this decision” to potentially risk public disclosure of such a “personal” decision.

Montoya responded that he was merely seeking to establish clearer guidelines for handling such cases, and that patient privacy wouldn’t be an issue because his legislation only wanted instances of infants being born alive to be reported. It was “embarrassing,” he lamented, that a lawmaker would instead have to settle for piecemeal public records requests to answer concerns instead of the relevant state officials doing due diligence.

Amen. There is no serious rationale for opposing this (objections that its logistics are “poorly conceived” are grounds for amending it, not rejecting it entirely). Killing or neglecting a born-alive infant is already a federal crime, and oversight to ensure that laws protecting children are being followed is one of the most basic duties of state government.

And we know it still happens in this country—as the Center for Medical Progress undercover investigation revealed:

Though his heart pulsed with life, a medical technician at the Planned Parenthood Alameda abortion clinic in San Jose, California, used scissors to cut open his face. The purpose? To harvest his complete brain. Once the technician had started to slice open this baby boy’s face, she handed the scissors to [technician Holly] O’Donnell, instructing her to finish opening the boy’s head and then, to pull out his brain […]

O’Donnell testified that she saw the baby boy’s heart beating. She testified that, even after this, the medical technician sliced his face open and told her to harvest the brain. We do not know for a certainty at what point the baby boy died, but we do know that he was living after the attempted abortion – a fact that, under California law, required Planned Parenthood to provide him with appropriate medical treatment and to not kill him.

Finally, we really have to marvel at the fact that Smith is wringing his hands over a nonbinding measure. If implementing the recommendations really did create an actual problem, state agencies would be free to disregard them. So even a symbolic affirmation that protecting innocent, defenseless newborns who are no longer attached to their mothers at all was too much for him.

Being unable to take even this modest step outside of abortion orthodoxy… not exactly a profile in courage.

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