Democrat blockage of the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act” has prompted plenty of commentary, from the right decrying Democrats as baby killers, to the left labeling it a win for women’s reproductive rights, to some calling the whole affair a brilliant strategy by Republicans to secure victory in 2020. However, some of the most important aspects of this matter are being overlooked.
The subject is S. 130, a bill in the U.S. Senate that would have prohibited, and prescribed punishment for, the killing of a child who survives an attempted abortion and is “born-alive,” living and breathing outside the womb. It also would have prescribed penalties for failing to provide medical care to such a child, thereby causing the child to die by means of neglect. Democrats blocked the bill from coming to a vote by means of a filibuster which Republicans failed to override.
It should be noted that this legislation is nothing new, having already been introduced three times in the last session of Congress when Republicans held full control of the legislative process. H.R. 37 and S. 220 appear to have both died somewhere in the committee process with H.R. 4712 actually passing in the House, but failing to receive any action in the Senate. The most recent iteration of this legislation appears to be the only to actually suffer defeat at the hands of Democrats, which defeat has caused quite the uproar among conservatives, though the previous failures under Republican control seem to have gone unnoticed by the right.
Protections of Law for All or None
It needs to be emphasized that we are not discussing the topic of abortion, nor stillbirths resulting from abortions. The subject of the bill, and of this article, is living, breathing, children, born alive, whose life is otherwise recognized and protected by law, but who, if born during an attempted abortion, have not received the same protections as other children.
(If the concept of children surviving an attempted abortion is news to you, or you’ve been lead to believe it doesn’t happen, I recommend you watch this video, or this one, or any of numerous others.)
States already have statutes prohibiting murder, manslaughter, criminal negligence, and child abuse or endangerment. These laws are applicable to newborn infants as evidenced by the criminal prosecution of any man who kills his girlfriend’s newborn, or of women who give birth in an ally and dispose of their baby in a dumpster. The prosecution of these types of cases shows that under current law, any newborn child who lives and breaths is recognized as a living person whose life is protected by law and the taking of whose life is punishable by law.
The problem that gave rise to the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, is the fact that enforcement of existing homicide and child neglect laws has been lax, or nonexistent, where children born at abortion clinics are concerned. And now, some states are actually taking steps to legislatively extend immunity to abortion doctors, protecting them from prosecution for acts of homicide or neglect that would bring a prison sentence for anyone else. If such legislation is allowed to stand and be treated as having the force of law, it would set a new precedent that not all persons are equal under the law – that those born in a certain place, or under certain circumstances, forfeit the right to life and may be killed, or allowed to die through neglect, with impunity.
Removing the protections of law from one class of persons (those born during an attempted abortion) places all persons in peril as it sets the precedent that the right to life (and by extension, all God-given rights) is not absolute, but arbitrary, and to be determined from day to day by the vote of a legislature, or perhaps the opinion of a judge, or maybe even the stroke of a governor’s pen.
Either the right to life is sure to all, or it is sure to none.
Is the Law Lawful?
When considering the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, or any legislation, the first question is whether the cause is moral, just, and right in the sight of God. The second question is, “from where does government derive the authority to do this?”
The Declaration of Independence clearly states that government derives its just power from the consent of the governed, that is, we the people. In the U.S. Constitution, we the people spelled out exactly what manner of central government we consented to being governed by and enumerated the specific powers that we delegated to it. In Article I, Section 1, we vested all legislative powers “in a Congress of the United States.” Then, in Article I, Section 8, we listed the powers granted to that Congress.
So, the question is, what clause in Article I, Section 8, grants Congress the power to legislate a criminal code enforceable on citizens of the union states?
The answer is, “none!”
Did the framers of the Constitution forget about the need for laws prohibiting theft, murder, and the like?
Not at all.
Article IV, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution guarantees to every state in the union “a republican form of government,” which is to say, a government ruled by law as opposed to being ruled by the edicts of a monarch, or the tyranny of mob rule in a pure democracy where people live or die at the whims of public opinion and the vote of the 51 percent.
Being steeped in a heritage of English common law, the framers of the Constitution understood that the rule of law rested in “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” (Declaration of Independence). This is why every state already prohibited rape, murder, theft, and so on, because those things violate either the observable laws of nature or the revealed laws of God.
The framers of the Constitution clearly intended, and through the guarantee of a republican form of government to the states required, that each of the union states would secure the lives, liberty, and property of their citizens by maintaining their own criminal code based in the laws of nature and of nature’s God. By this means, the central government would not need to legislate a nation-wide criminal code prohibiting murder and the like, as each state would prohibit such in its own statues based on God’s law which prohibits murder.
So, in the matter at hand, it is clear that the federal government has not been granted the power to legislate a criminal code enforceable on the citizens of the union states. Yet, it is equally clear that the federal government is required to ensure that every state establishes, and enforces, a criminal code which upholds the rule of law which itself is based in God’s law and which protects the inherent God-given rights of all persons, including the right to life, even for those born in an abortion clinic.
How to Protect the Innocent
We have gotten in a habit of immediately looking to the highest level of government to fix every problem and address every need. However, our system of government was designed with the intent that issues be addressed at the most local level first.
With this in mind, it is the county sheriff who holds the highest law enforcement authority in the land, deriving his power directly from the people who elect him. It is the duty of the county sheriff, more than any other government official, to uphold the rule of law and secure the God-given rights of all persons within his jurisdiction. Therefore, it is his responsibility to arrest anyone who kills a child born alive or who, through willful neglect, allows a child to die. This duty supersedes edicts or opinions issued by any other government official or entity as the sheriff’s duty is directly to the people and the protection of their lives, liberty, and property.
It is next the duty of the county prosecutor to bring charges of murder against anyone, medical personnel or otherwise, who, upon a child being born alive, willfully takes action to kill the child. Manslaughter, or other charges of criminal neglect or child abuse, must also be brought against any persons present at the time of a live birth who could have taken actions to preserve or sustain the child’s life, but chose not to do so, thus causing death by neglect.
But what if the sheriff or prosecutor fail to perform their duty?
In that case, it becomes the duty of the state – primarily through the governor and attorney general – to hold local law enforcement officials accountable to the rule of law and the securing of the God-given rights of the citizenry through the enforcing of the state’s criminal code.
But what if the sheriff, prosecutor, governor, attorney general, and possibly even the state legislature all refuse to uphold the rule of law, agreeing together to allow the killing of a certain class of persons, not affording them the protections of law?
Because Article IV, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution guarantees to every state a republican form of government, which is to say, the rule of law based in the laws of nature and of nature’s God which protects the inherent right to life of all persons, it would then become the duty of the federal government to confront the wayward and lawless state. If a warning fails to bring corrective action, Congress could ultimately be forced to fulfill its duty by exercising its Article I, Section 8 power to call forth the militia to suppress the insurrection created by a state rebelling against the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law in refusing to protect the lives of all equally under the law.
But what if neither the sheriff, county prosecutor, governor, state attorney general, Congress, or the President uphold the rule of law and put a stop to the killing of children born alive?
Well, if that happens, then you can know with certainty that we the people have failed to elect men of character and understanding to any level of civil government and are merely reaping a harvest of the seeds of compromise that we’ve sown.
Our greatest need is not for new laws to protect children, but for the thorough application and enforcement of the existing laws which already prohibit the killing or neglect of children. If a county sheriff or prosecutor lacks the courage to enforce those laws as aggressively at abortion clinics as they do elsewhere, then it’s time to elect new law enforcement officials.
However, when we, in an act of desperation, ask the federal government to impose from on-high what we the people have failed to accomplish in our own communities, we encourage the aggrandizing of ever more power in a distant central government that becomes increasingly usurpatious and totalitarian. Besides, if we can’t get our own community law enforcement officials to enforce existing laws, do we really believe that bureaucrats from the faraway central government will do a better job of protecting children born alive at local abortion clinics?
Though the actual enforcement of the rule of law and the protection of children born alive should come from the local community, there is a place for, and it is certainly high time for, Congress and the President to boldly and publicly remind sheriffs, prosecutors, governors, and state legislatures of their duty before God, and obligation under the U.S. Constitution, to uphold the rule of law and protect the lives of all persons equally under the law.