Kansas House of Representatives passes bill requiring care for infants ‘born alive’ after abortion

(TOPEKA, Kan.) — Months after Kansas voters decided to uphold protections for abortion rights, the state’s House of Representatives approved a bill based on the disputed idea that providers leave newborns to die after unsuccessful abortions. The bill passed with a 88-34 vote.

If approved, the bill would provide legal protections for infants born alive after a failed abortion, requiring healthcare providers to provide them with care. The bill would create criminal penalties and civil liability for violations of the act.

The bill now heads to the Republican-majority state Senate for approval. Kansas voters decided to protect abortion rights in a high-turnout primary vote, striking down a proposal to remove abortion protections from the state’s constitution.

The vast majority of abortions are performed before the point in pregnancy when a fetus would theoretically survive, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2020, only 0.9% of abortion procedures occurred after 21 weeks gestation, the CDC reports. Failed abortions where infants are born alive are extremely rare. 

Providers who fail to provide care to infants born alive will face felony charges. The father of the fetus, the mother of the fetus and family including parents or guardians are allowed to bring civil lawsuits against providers who fail to follow the law.

If the pregnancy results from any criminal conduct, the person guilty is barred from bringing such lawsuits.

The bill defines an infant as “born alive” if it “breathes or has a beating heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord or definite movement of voluntary muscles,” according to the bill.

Under the bill, health care centers will be required to report to the secretary of health and environment how many abortions result in infants being born alive. Facilities who fail to submit the report could face a fine of up to $500.

The measure is similar to a proposed Montana law that voters rejected in November.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a similar bill in January, but it is unlikely the bill will become law.

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