Congressman Adam Kinzinger participated in a press conference Wednesday urging Democratic leadership to allow a vote on "Born Alive" protections, as well as speaking out against new legislation proposed in Illinois.
This proposal would require doctors to use all means available to save the life of a child born alive after an attempted abortion. Doctors would have to provide the same medical care any other premature baby would receive.
Kinzinger, R-Channahon, said Democrats have blocked a House vote on the bill 17 times. Opponents have said the Born Alive bill would discourage legal abortions and is redundant with the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002 signed by President George W. Bush, extending legal protection to an infant born alive after a failed attempt at induced abortion.
“There seems to be a new level of alarming rhetoric coming from those who choose not to protect innocent babies who cannot speak for themselves," said Kinzinger, whose district includes Ottawa and Streator. "But keep in mind, abortions after 20 weeks are banned in all but seven countries in the world. To name a few who allow it: North Korea, China and the United States."
The abortion debate has been re-ignited with recent bills in Virginia and New York gaining national attention.
The debate also is occurring at a time when Illinois is poised to provide greater access to reproductive health care and abortion procedures than any other state in the country. Gov. JB Pritzker has said he will turn Illinois into “the most progressive state in the nation for access to reproductive health care.”
According to Capitol News Illinois, this new legislation would repeal current abortion law and replace it with language enshrining reproductive health as a “fundamental right.”
As is written in the measure, “This Act sets forth the fundamental rights of individuals to make autonomous decisions about one’s own reproductive health, including the fundamental right to use or refuse reproductive health care.”
The Reproductive Health Act prohibits the state from intruding in a woman’s reproductive health care decision-making, whether that be choosing to carry a pregnancy to term or opting for an abortion procedure. It creates an avenue for a woman to bring a lawsuit should she feel this right was violated.
It also allows local governments to write ordinances strengthening reproductive health care, but bars them from weakening access to such procedures as abortion.
The proposed legislation additionally requires health care professionals to file a report with the Department of Public Health of each abortion procedure they perform. This requirement, though, is less specific than current statute, which mandates the type of information to be collected and reported.
Criminal penalties for doctors who perform abortions are removed from the proposal.
Among other statutes, the measure repeals the Partial-birth Abortion Ban Act, which was struck down as unconstitutional, the Abortion Performance Refusal Act and part of the Ambulatory Surgical Treatment Center Act.
Opponents in Illinois say the proposal would repeal sections of at least three statutes that give legal protections for health care workers and providers who refuse to take part in or perform abortion procedures.
The sentence in question — “A fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent rights under the laws of this State” — appears in a section of the legislation outlining reproductive health as fundamental rights. In Illinois, someone can be convicted of first-degree murder for intentionally killing an unborn child. Opponents said if this proposal were to become law, a “wily attorney” could argue his or her client should be charged with a lesser crime, and therefore a lesser sentence.
Kinzinger spoke against the proposed Illinois legislation. He also introduced Jill Stanek, an Illinois nurse and pro-life advocate, during the press conference.
"The Legislature in my home state of Illinois is now debating two of its own abortion bills, both of which seem just as extreme, if not worse, as they would allow nurses and physician assistants to perform surgical abortions; end parent notification; require private health insurance companies to provide coverage for abortions; and eliminate restrictions on late-term abortions," Kinzinger said at the press conference.
“These proposals in Illinois and across the country are deeply concerning," the Congressman added. "This issue should not be partisan. All babies, including those who survive abortion, should be treated with the exact same degree of medical attention — end of story."
According to a recent New York Times article, a healthy fetus becomes viable — potentially able to survive outside the womb — at about 24 weeks of pregnancy. Only about 1.3 percent of abortions in the United States in 2015 were performed in or after the 21st week of pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Less than 1 percent of all abortions are done after 24 weeks, and many are performed because the fetus has a fatal condition or the pregnant woman’s life or health is at severe risk.
The article noted a condition called pre-eclampsia, involving high blood pressure and other problems, can kill both mother and fetus, and in most cases the only treatment is to deliver the baby. If it seems unlikely the baby will survive, the family may choose to provide comfort care — wrapping and cuddling the baby — and allow the child to die naturally without extreme attempts at resuscitation.
The proposed GOP bill would force doctors to resuscitate such an infant, even if the parents did not want those measures, meaning doctors who violated the law would be subject to criminal penalties.
— Capitol News Illinois' Rebecca Anzel contributed to this report.