Texas and 25 other states require physicians to provide medical care and treatment to infants who are born alive at any stage of development.
In North Carolina, the House of Representatives voted 65-46 to pass the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, Senate Bill 359. The Senate passed the bill by a 28-19 vote, the Raleigh News and Observer reports.
However, some observers said the response to the bill from the Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s office suggested that he would veto the bill, the Associated Press reports.
“This unnecessary legislation would criminalize doctors for a practice that simply does not exist,” said Ford Porter, a spokesman for Cooper.
The legislation would require medical practitioners to provide sufficient care for babies who survive abortion. Failure to do so could mean prison time and up to $250,000 in fines.
The bill also mandates that medical professionals report a baby who has survived an abortion and received insufficient care. If signed into law, it would allow relatives of a baby who died to file a civil lawsuit.
The Republican-controlled legislature lost its veto-proof supermajority in the 2018 elections and will need Democratic support if the governor vetoes the bill.
“Do any of you really think that infanticide is legal in North Carolina?” said bill critic State Rep. Susan Fisher, a Buncombe County Democrat. She objected that the Republican-controlled legislature would have acted sooner, when it had a veto-proof supermajority, if legislators believed babies were being left to die or killed after a failed abortion. She argued that the measure aimed to intimidate health care providers who conducted legal abortions.
Other critics opposed charging medical providers with murder, said the legislation interfered with a woman’s right to abortion, or interfered with medical actions between a physician and a pregnant woman.
Others said the bill addressed a real injustice.
“I can attest to the fact that infanticide has happened here in North Carolina,” said Rep. Pat McElraft, a Republican from Carteret County. “I’ve been witness to the result of those late-term abortions.”
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She said that earlier in her career in Jacksonville, N.C., she encountered a local doctor who performed abortions. According to the Raleigh News and Observer, she alleged this unnamed doctor preserved bodies of unborn babies at his office, which she believed to have survived abortion but were drowned in saline.
“Nurses told stories of babies who were born alive and were taken by the doctor and turned face down in the saline,” she said.
Federal born-alive legislation failed to pass Congress earlier this year.
In May 2013 Philadelphia-based abortionist Kermit Gosnell was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of babies at his clinic. A government raid on his clinic found filthy conditions and human remains. State authorities had not inspected his clinic in years.
The illegal sale of fetal tissue and baby body parts for profit has also become prominent due to undercover videos published by the Center for Medical Progress that appear to show such activity by major abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood. The videos have prompted concern that some babies targeted for abortion are delivered alive to provide intact bodies for tissue harvesters.