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‘Born Alive’ Bill May Be Reintroduced

by | Tue, Oct 24 2023

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The failure of a Senate committee to make any recommendation after a long inquiry into the treatment of babies that are born alive after an abortion procedure is likely to see the so-called Born Alive Bill reintroduced in the Senate.

It was first introduced late last year as the Human Rights (Children Born Alive) Protection Bill 2022  under the sponsorship of Senators Matt Canavan (LNP), Alex Antic (LIB) and Ralph Babet (UAP) to ensure babies born in that situation are treated under a duty of care by health professionals, nationwide. It reads in part:

The bill clarifies that children born alive are persons; requires health practitioners to provide medical care, treatment and statistics on children born alive as a result of terminations; and provides that the mother of a child born alive is not liable to prosecution for an offence in respect of that child.

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) National Director of Politics Wendy Francis told Vision Radio that: “The bill is still actually alive because what happened was that when the three senators introduced this bill, the Senate moved it off to a Senate committee and that Senate committee was meant to come with a recommendation at the end of a very long inquiry. That committee decided that they could make no recommendation. So they have made no recommendation either way.”

“What we’re seeing now around the different states is that in New South Wales, in South Australia and also in Queensland, there is a recognition that this (babies being born alive) is happening. So now we’ve broken through that barrier because there was a barrier of people saying it just doesn’t happen. In those three states we now have recommendations from their health departments saying that it does happen, so we know it does happen.”

“What Matt Canavan is making clear that he wants to do is to reintroduce the Born Alive Bill. It would be unlikely for the Senate to say, oh, well, we’ll send it off to a committee because they’ve already done that and the committee couldn’t come up with any recommendation. So what is the Senate going to do with it when he reintroduces it? Well, they can either choose to just ignore it and leave it on the table, or they can actually give it a fair hearing and debate it. Either way it’s still keeping this alive.”

“We’re so grateful to Senators Canavan, Antic and Babet, but we’re also so grateful to the thousands of supporters around Australia who have actually really taken this to heart and talked to their MPs about it, because there’s no doubt that that has made a difference in this case,” Ms. Francis remarked.

University of Adelaide law professor Dr. Joanna Howe who made a submission to the Senate inquiry has previously said she was shocked by its report because it failed to acknowledge the plight of these babies and made no recommendations.

Dr. Howe wrote in the Canberra Declaration’s Daily Declaration that: “The Senate report into the issue of babies born alive after failed abortions has whitewashed the issue, relying on the evidence of abortion providers and abortion advocates to reach its conclusion.”

Her submission to the inquiry detailed hundreds of cases of babies left to die following an abortion procedure. It said that despite reporting requirements varying between states and territories, information gleaned from coroner’s reports and the media showed that 328 children were born alive post-abortion in Queensland and 396 children in Victoria, over the 10 years from 2010 to 2020.

“Alongside others, I presented oral evidence to the Senate Committee in June and clearly established the evidence that every week in Australia a child is born alive after a failed abortion and left to die without a legal right to care,” Dr. Howe stated.

In her evidence to the inquiry she shared two coronial reports with the committee of babies who died, one who survived for 80 minutes without care. She also shared case studies of two Down Syndrome babies, one of whom survived after being given care.

“None of this evidence was cited in the majority report by the Senate Committee and instead they chose to highlight the evidence of abortion providers and other pro-abortion groups.”

“Chair of the Community Affairs Legislation Committee Senator Marielle Smith and the other five Senators did not even reference the known and reported cases of babies born alive and left to die after failed abortions, or any scholarly evidence on the issue.”

Dr. Howe vowed to continue fighting for the passage of the Born Alive Bill. She will also continue campaigning to change what she considers Australia’s ‘extreme’ abortion laws, arguing most Australians would be “appalled by the broad legality of late-term abortion”.