by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – In a move that pro-life groups have decried as legalizing infanticide, California has introduced a bill that would absolve parents and medical staff of any criminal or civil liability for the death of a newborn baby in their care, even if the cause of death is suspicious, Christian Headlines reports. The hearing for a similar bill in Maryland was recently canceled after a public outcry.
Titled AB 2223 Reproductive Health and introduced by Democratic Assembly Member Wicks, the bill provides that no one will be liable under criminal or civil law for the death of a newborn – “perinatal” – baby aged up to 4 weeks old.
“Notwithstanding any other law, a person shall not be subject to civil or criminal liability or penalty, or otherwise deprived of their rights, 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,” the bill says.
The Medical Dictionary defines “perinatal” as: “Occurring during, or pertaining to, the periods before, during, or after the time of birth; that is, before delivery from the 22nd week of gestation through the first 28 days after delivery.”
The bill adds that: “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.”
The bill claims it is needed to protect Black, Indigenous and other peoples of color from the threat of prosecution for “adverse pregnancy outcomes,” including not only abortion, miscarriage stillbirth but also “perinatal death.”
“Civil and criminal penalties imposed on pregnant people is a critical issue for Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, who experience adverse pregnancy outcomes as a result of systemic racial inequities and are more likely to be under scrutiny of state systems like child welfare or immigration,” the bill says.
“When a person fears state action being taken against them related to their pregnancy, they are less likely to seek medical care when they need it. If they do seek care, punishing them for actual, potential, or alleged pregnancy outcomes interferes with professional care and endangers the relationship between providers and patients,” the bill continues.
Pro-life groups warn the bill is nothing less than the legalizing of infanticide. The bill “removes all civil and criminal penalties for killing babies born alive under any circumstances,” said attorney and chief executive officer Alexandra Snyder of the Life Legal Defense Foundation. “The bill expressly authorizes any person to facilitate late-term abortions and infanticide without legal repercussions,” Snyder said.
Earlier this month, Maryland Democratic senator William Smith was forced to cancel a hearing scheduled for his very similar bill SB 669, which would have blocked any liability for allowing a newborn to die from “failure to act.”
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