Tags: HHS | Pledges | Thorough | Enforcement | Born-Alive | Act

HHS Pledges Thorough Enforcement of Born-Alive Act

Tuesday, 26 April 2005 12:00 AM

Under the Born-Alive Act, passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress and signed into law by President Bush in August 2002, when terms "individual," "person," "human being," or "child" are used in law they must be defined to include any infant who is born alive, at any stage of development.

An infant is considered alive, according to the Act, if he or she "has a beating heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles, regardless of whether the umbilical cord has been cut, and regardless of whether the expulsion or extraction occurs as a result of natural or induced labor, cesarean section, or induced abortion."

HHS issued a three-page memo to state agencies in charge of enforcing and investigating child abuse making it clear that violations of the Born-Alive Act fall under their purview to investigate.

The memo states that all references to "child" or "children" used in the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, the law that governs the state agencies, must be "read to include infants who are 'born-alive' as that term is defined" in the Born-Alive Act. The memo also notes that states must make sure that "procedures for responding to reports of medical neglect (including the withholding of medically indicated treatment from disabled infants with life-threatening conditions), applies to born-alive infants."

A separate memo, issued by the HHS Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said that laws requiring medical facilities to provide emergency medical service to all individuals were to be applied to infants who survive abortion. The cost for failing to comply could be as high as $50,000 per violation or $25,000 per violation in the case of a hospital with less than 100 beds. Violating hospitals also put their Medicare provider agreements at risk. A physician can also face a penalty of $50,000 per violation and be excluded from the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

The news comes as a relief to pro-life groups who worked for passage of the Born-Alive Act. According to one senior Congressional staffer, many pro-life organizations had "been concerned that since the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act became law in 2002 that some clinics and hospitals where ignoring its requirements." Particularly encouraging was the strong language used by Leavitt when he announced that HHS would be stringently enforcing the law.

"The Act reaffirms the legal principle that all infants born alive are entitled to the full protection of the law. That is a principle I will vigorously uphold as Secretary. . . . Ours is a society that values and defends life. The Department of Health and Human Services will continue to seek ways to revere and protect the dignity of life."

(Copyright 2005 - Culture of Life Foundation. Permission granted for unlimited use. Credit required.)

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Under the Born-Alive Act, passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress and signed into law by President Bush in August 2002, when terms "individual," "person," "human being," or "child" are used in law they must be defined to include any infant who is...
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2005-00-26
Tuesday, 26 April 2005 12:00 AM
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