California Moves to Safeguard a Right to Infanticide
In ancient Rome, when a child was born, it was common practice for the child to be laid at its father’s feet. If he took the child up in his arms, he was acknowledging the child as his own and conferring on it the rights and privileges of family membership. If he did not pick up the child, it was to be removed from the home. Someone, usually a household servant, would take it to some roadside byway and leave it there. Of course, most died. The practice was called “exposure.”
Exposure was eventually outlawed in Rome by Emperor Constantine, and where Christianity spread and took root, the practice was never revived, although it reportedly still happens in China, North Korea, and in a few other tribal or totalitarian societies.
And now there’s California, where Assembly Bill 2223 was introduced in the legislature last February. AB-2223 is one of many bills being pushed by the Future of Abortion Council, a group of more than 40 abortion advocacy groups intent on making California the abortion “sanctuary state” its governor envisions. Right to Life League’s Susan S. Arnall, Esq. sifted through the particulars of the bill. Here are some relevant details:
The bill shields women – and anyone assisting them – from criminal prosecution for the death of a baby due to miscarriage, stillbirths, and abortions . . . but also for perinatal death. To be clear, “perinatal death” means the death of a born, living baby up to one month old. AB 2223 literally shields women (and those assisting them) for the killing of a one month old baby if the death is “due to a pregnancy-related cause.” What is a “pregnancy related cause”? No one knows, because it is not defined in the bill or anywhere else.
The outrage over AB 2223 is that it includes protection against criminal prosecution for such perinatal death. Since the bill’s introduction earlier this year, pro-life lawyers have repeatedly and specifically pointed out how the language of AB 2223 will erode existing state born-alive protection and will legalize the killing of babies born alive up to a month old.
The bill bizarrely identifies four possible pregnancy “outcomes”: 1) miscarriage, 2) stillbirth, 3) abortion, and 4) “perinatal death due to a pregnancy related cause.” For most people the outcome of a pregnancy not ending in miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion would be the birth of a live infant, but AB-2223 substitutes instead this strange new category of pregnancy outcome called “perinatal death,” and it expressly carves out protections for those who cause it to happen. (The term “perinatal death” is defined in California statutory law to be death from birth through the first 28 days of life.) AB-2223 proposes to add to the Health and Safety Code language that reads:
(a) Notwithstanding any other law, a person shall not be subject to civil or criminal liability or penalty, or otherwise deprived of their
rights, rights under this article, based on their actions or omissions with respect to their pregnancy or actual, potential, or alleged pregnancy outcome, including miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion, or perinatal death death due to a pregnancy-related cause.
(b) A person who aids or assists a pregnant person in exercising their rights under this article shall not be subject to civil or criminal liability or penalty, or otherwise be deprived of their rights, based solely on their actions to aid or assist a pregnant person in exercising their rights under this article with the pregnant person’s voluntary consent.
Those strikethroughs and italics are in the original, as it’s displayed on California’s Legislative Information page for AB-2223. Arnall explains what the perinatal death clause means in practice:
The first three categories describe prenatal death of the baby in the womb and before birth. The fourth category — perinatal death— describes death AFTER THE BABY IS BORN AND ALIVE outside the womb, for up to one month after birth …
AB 2223 lumps prenatal and perinatal death together so that the cause of ANY fetal death — before birth or after birth — cannot be used to investigate the mother or anyone who assisted in causing that death.
In other words, if the “pregnancy outcome” at any point during the child’s first four weeks of life becomes death, then the (formerly) pregnant person and anyone who assisted her in causing the death – whether by their actions or omissions of actions – is shielded from charge with any wrongdoing. Arnall continues:
Here are some sad and shocking examples of how that might work: A mother who strangles her newborn (an act) or fails to feed her newborn (an omission), is shielded from all liability under AB 2223 if the baby dies. She can assert the death was “due to a pregnancy-related cause” and she’s protected from civil or criminal liability.
Ditto for anyone who assists her in obtaining the desired pregnancy outcome. Further jabbing its thumb in the eye of justice, the bill creates a private, civil cause of action for violation of the bill’s privacy right, effectively enabling legal action against any state official who would interfere with this “right” to cause the pregnancy-related outcome of perinatal death:
(a) A party aggrieved by conduct or regulation in violation of this article may bring a civil action against an offending state actor in a state superior court.
(d)(1) the criminal investigation, arrest, or prosecution, or threat of investigation, arrest, or prosecution, of a person with respect to their pregnancy or actual, potential, or alleged pregnancy outcome, constitutes “threat, intimidation, or coercion” pursuant to Section 52.1 of the Civil Code.
The bill also proscribes a coroner’s duty to investigate infant death and threatens to punish any so-inclined conscientious coroner. Damages start at $25,000, Arnall notes, and can also include lawyer’s fees.
On April 19th, the day of its scheduled committee vote, some 2000 people gathered outside the California State Capitol to object to it. Jonathan Keller, president of the California Family Council reported on the turnout:
Note, by the way, the peacefulness of the protest. Nevertheless, the Assembly Health Committee passed AB 2223 out of committee by a vote of 11 to 3.
A New Low for Depravity
Whether these people voted out of bald selfish ambition, abject indifference to human life, or plain old cowardice, this subjects California to a whole new level of state-sanctioned depravity. Never ask how low can a people go, because the answer will always be “lower than the status quo.”
I can remember a time when the slogan that said abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare” at least implied an air of compassion. It suggested a bare minimum compromise on a contentious procedure. Today, that pinch of compromise has morphed into countless pounds of flesh and rivers of blood with no end in sight.
What California is considering is worse than exposure in Rome. In Rome early Christians were known to retrieve abandoned infants and raise them. It seems California just wants the children dead.
As states continue to stake out their positions on the value of human life, those of us who respect it should be all about exposing abortion sanctuaries as the sanctums of child sacrifice they are becoming.
*** Update, May 16: It appears AB-2223 has been quietly amended. The new language reads:
a person shall not be subject to civil or criminal liability or penalty, or otherwise deprived of their rights under this article, based on their actions or omissions with respect to their pregnancy or actual, potential, or alleged pregnancy outcome, including miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion, or perinatal death due to
a pregnancy-related cause. causes that occurred in utero.
It remains to be seen how AB-2223 will play out.Terrell Clemmons
Terrell Clemmons is Deputy Editor of Salvo and writes on apologetics and matters of faith.• Get SALVO blog posts in your inbox! Copyright © 2023 Salvo | www.salvomag.com https://salvomag.com/post/barreling-toward-barbarism