A short history of babies born alive during an abortion

by Napp Nazworth, Christian Post Reporter |
Gianna Jessen testifying at House Judiciary Committee hearing, "Planned Parenthood Exposed," September 9, 2015, Washington, D.C. | Photo: screengrab, prolifeinformation YouTube channel

The U.S. Senate failed last month to pass the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. To understand why this bill was deemed necessary, look at the history behind it.

Jesse Floyd

In the 1977 case of Floyd v. Anders, an abortionist, Dr. Jesse Floyd, was tried for murdering a baby. He "botched" the abortion, meaning his attempt to kill the fetus failed and instead resulted in a live baby who survived for 20 days then died due to his induced pre-mature birth.

The case presented an interesting question for the courts. The U.S. Supreme Court made abortion legal in 1973 based upon a "right to privacy" for the mother. But if an abortion fails to result in a dead fetus and instead results in a baby born alive, now outside its mother, does the mother's "right to privacy" still have any bearing on the life of the child? In other words, does the right to an abortion end when the baby has fully exited the birth canal, or does that right continue? Is abortion about a woman being able to control what is inside her body, or about being able to legally kill her baby?

Judge Clement Haynsworth concluded the right to an abortion necessarily includes the right to a dead baby.

"If a state may not legislate for the protection and preservation of the life of such a fetus, it surely cannot make the surgical severance of the fetus from the womb murder under state law," he wrote.

Pro-lifers were disturbed by the precedent set forth by the reasoning in this case. If you attempt to kill a fetus, fail, and instead deliver a live baby, you still have a right to kill the baby, the judge was saying. This would mean that a baby born alive but marked for abortion does not have the same legal rights as a baby born alive but not marked for abortion; the right to an abortion entails the right to a dead baby even if that baby is no longer inside her mother.

Jill Stanek

On July 12, 2001, nurse Jill Stanek testified before a congressional subcommittee on "induced labor abortions" taking place at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois, where she had worked.

For late-term abortions, Christ Hospital was inducing labor, delivering the babies, then leaving them alone to die, testified Stanek, who is now a pro-life speaker and activist.

"Christ Hospital performs abortions on women in their second or even third trimesters of pregnancy. Sometimes the babies being aborted are healthy, and sometimes they are not. The abortion technique that Christ Hospital and other hospitals use, called 'induced labor abortion,' sometimes results in infants being aborted alive, because throughout this particular abortion procedure the fetus is not killed in the uterus. The focus of this method is to forcibly dilate a woman's cervix so that she will prematurely deliver a baby who dies during the birth process or soon afterward," she said.

The uncomfortable truth revealed during this testimony is that the safest late-term abortion (for the mother) is to deliver the baby whole, rather than dismember the baby inside the womb. This is why Christ Hospital used that method. But once the baby is delivered, and viable outside her mother, the "her body, her choice" argument is no longer valid. This is why abortionists have resorted to other methods that kill the fetus before removing her.

Abortion survivors

Not every person who survived a botched abortion was left to die. Some were kept alive, adopted, grew up, and are now old enough to tell their stories.

Two of the most prominent abortion survivors are Gianna Jessen, a pro-life activist and speaker, and Melissa Ohden, founder of Abortion Survivors Network, which provides support for and gives a voice to those who survived an abortion attempt. Both of them have testified before Congress on multiple occasions.

In her 2015 testimony, Jessen asked, "If abortion is about women's rights, then what were mine? You continuously use the argument, 'If the baby is disabled, we need to terminate the pregnancy,' as if you can determine the quality of someone's life. Is my life less valuable due to my Cerebral Palsy?"

Continue reading about abortion survivors on The Christian Post.