My Turn: ‘Born alive’ bill does not protect anyone

For the Monitor
Published: 3/2/2021 6:10:07 AM

Last week, the New Hampshire House passed HB 233, titled the “Born Alive Infant Protection Act.”

I do not want to dwell on the behavior of our House speaker, who introduced the bill one day early and then locked doors to keep Democratic representatives from voting. Instead, I want to explain why this law would be “incredibly cruel” to parents and caregivers.

Supporters of the bill claim it would prevent babies from being “left to die.” In 40 years of practicing obstetrics, including my five years of training, I never once witnessed nor heard of a viable live infant who was not cared for.

It is not unusual that a severely premature baby (less than 24 weeks) is born alive because of premature labor, rupture of membranes, abruption of the placenta, or an incompetent (weak) cervix. Less commonly, parents sometimes receive a fatal fetal diagnosis prior to delivery – i.e. anencephaly (no brain) and learn that their baby will be born with only minutes, hours, or days to live.

Throughout my career, I have been with many women in these instances who must choose the course of care they can best live with. I have supported women and their families through the heartache of losing or ending a wanted pregnancy. Most women just want to hold, comfort, and care for their infant, sharing their final moments together. This time is often spent making memories that give them peace. We helped them make footprints and take photographs. Most important is just sitting with patients as they grieve.

Few would ever think to intrude on these moments of loss, but that is what the “Born Alive Infant Protection Act” calls for. This bill does not protect anyone. If it becomes law, doctors would be forced to take these nonviable babies from their parents and make futile efforts to save a baby they cannot save. The statute would deny families in these tragic situations the small amount of time they have to hold their babies. Physicians might be charged with a serious crime, while providing love and empathy, and appropriate hospice care.

This is not an anti-abortion bill. Our politicians who vote in support of the “Born Alive Infant Protection Act” have no idea what they are taking away. Women and their families need to feel safe and given time to love their baby. We cannot let legislators take these precious moments away from women and their families.

(Dr. Oge Young lives in Concord.)


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