Children Born Alive Protection Bill Re-Introduced
On 30 November 2022, Senators Alex Antic (Liberal Party, South Australia), Ralph Babet (United Australia Party, Victoria) and Matt Canavan (LNP, Queensland) introduced the Human Rights (Children Born Alive Protection) Bill 2022 into the Australian Senate. This collective effort comes after the original bill, sponsored by former LNP MP George Christensen, lapsed when the House of Representatives was dissolved ahead of the federal election in May 2022.
Queensland Health’s Gruesome Guidelines
The goal of this Bill is to ensure that a child who is born alive because of a failed abortion procedure is entitled to the same level of medical care and treatment as any other newborn child.
The current Queensland Health guidelines for ‘termination of pregnancy' make for gruesome reading. In point 5.4.3 under the heading ‘Other fetal considerations’, Table 23 details what is to happen in the case of a live birth[i]:
‘Do not provide life sustaining treatment (e.g. gastric tubes, IV lines, oxygen therapy)’
In other words – leave the child to die!
Australians Unaware of Horror
Tragically, the instances in which children are born alive due to a failed abortion are not as rare as you might think. Joanna Howe, Associate Professor in Law at the University of Adelaide, says: “In Victoria and Queensland in the last 10 years, 724 babies have been born alive and I hate to say it, but actually left to die. They have no rights to medical treatment, no rights to palliative care.”[ii]
Senator Antic adds, “In 2016, something like 33 babies met their fate in Victoria, so this is appalling stuff. It really is staggering to most people.”[iii] With regards to Queensland, in 2021, Cherish Life revealed that from 2005 to June 2019, 318 babies were born alive and left to die.[iv]
Shockingly, most Australians are totally oblivious that this law exists, as Howe points out, “I think most Australians don’t even know that babies are born alive … and have no legal rights under Australian law”.[v]
A Human Rights Issue
Ultimately, we are talking about a human rights issue. As the explanatory memorandum for the Bill explains:
‘In Australia, the protection of all human life is core to the values we uphold as a nation. The purpose of this bill is to enhance Australia’s human rights protections for children by ensuring that all children receive the same medical care and treatment as any other person, including those born alive as a result of termination.'
It is likewise important to add that the Bill exempts mothers of babies born alive from prosecution. Instead, it ‘seeks to enshrine an offence for health practitioners that contravene the duty to provide medical care or treatment to a child born alive.’[vi]
Backlash Against The Bill
Now surely you would think that this Bill would be noncontroversial and purely a matter of parliamentary procedure. However, there has been a small backlash from those who promote anti-life ideology. For example, Monash University’s Dr Shelly Makleff writes that the Bill is ‘clearly another move in a playbook to create more barriers to abortion care’.[vii] Astonishing. To suggest that the Bill creates more barriers to abortion care is nonsense. In no way does this Bill prevent access to abortions. As the terms state, the Bill only provides life-sustaining treatment to children born because of a failed abortion. In fact, if abortion access does increase, then the tragic irony is that there will only be an increase in the number of children born alive and left to die.
Furthermore, regarding Bills such as these, Makleff adds that it is ‘widely agreed upon by medical experts and scientists that they’re medically unnecessary’.[viii] Another absolutely staggering claim! Given the figures detailing the number of live births, along with the fact that point 5.4.3 even exists within Queensland Health’s termination of pregnancy guidelines, to say that lifesaving treatment for these children is medically unnecessary is incomprehensible. Even if just one life were saved, surely the Bill would be worth it? You would have to be inhumane to be against it.
These children deserve a chance at life. Take, for example, the story of Gianna Jessen, whose mother at 7 and ½ months pregnant decided to go to Planned Parenthood in the US (the world’s largest abortion provider) and was counselled to have a late-term abortion. The procedure was intended to be straightforward: A saline salt solution was injected into the mother’s womb, the child was supposed to gulp the solution and burn from the inside out. The mother was then to deliver the dead baby within 24 hours. However, to everyone’s surprise, on 6 April 1977, Gianna did not arrive dead but alive at a Los Angeles abortion clinic. Gianna went on to be adopted. [ix]
Again, even if only one life like Gianna is saved, then clearly the Bill is worth it!
Bill Raises Concerns Across Party Lines
This is why even senators such as Deputy Leader of the Nationals in the Senate, Perin Davey, who describes herself as “100% pro-choice” said that the idea of children born alive as a result of a failed abortion not receiving adequate healthcare “concerned her.” LNP MP for Bowman (QLD) Henry Pike said the Bill “raised an important issue”.[x] With regards to the Labour and Green’s Parties, Senator Antic, said:
“It will be an interesting litmus test for Labor and the Greens, who talk about being pro-human. We are not talking about interfering with rights relating to the procedure of abortion – we are simply talking about giving medical care to children that are born alive as a result of a failed abortion. So it strikes me as being an absolute no-brainer.”[xi]
Nationals and Coalition leaders David Littleproud and Peter Dutton are yet to comment.[xii]
How Can We Respond?
So how can the Australian public respond?
Contact Your Senators - Start by getting in touch with your 12 Senators, asking them for their own position on this Bill.
Raise Awareness – More Australians need to be aware of what is happening with regards to these innocent children. Therefore, please share this article as widely as you can, with all your friends and on social media platforms.
Support Cherish Life - Either by volunteering or financial donation (or both) you can seek to provide a voice for these innocent children who are being left to die.
Prayer - Finally, we would ask those who are Christians reading this article to keep this Bill in your prayers. Ask God for His intervention and ask others within your church community to do the same.
Executive Officer @ Cherish Life
[i] “Queensland Clinical Guideline: Termination of pregnancy,” Queensland Health, accessed 16 January 2023, https://www.health.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0029/735293/g-top.pdf
[ii] Joanna Howe (@drjoannehowe), “Breaking News,” Instagram Post. November 30, 2022. https://www.instagram.com/p/Clk6avLD4-C/
[iv] “CHILDREN BORN ALIVE PROTECTION BILL - WE NEED YOUR HELP!” Cherish Life Website, accessed 24/01/2023, https://www.cherishlife.org.au/babies_born_alive
[v] Joanna Howe (@drjoannehowe), “Breaking News,” Instagram Post. November 30, 2022. https://www.instagram.com/p/Clk6avLD4-C/
[vii] “Political push to 'protect' babies born alive after abortion,” The OZ, accessed 16 January 2023, https://www.theaustralian.com.au/the-oz/news/political-push-to-protect-babies-born-alive-after-abortion/news-story/a6fa6d5e922ae894793939d332557324
[ix] Gianna Jesson, “One of the best Pro-Life speeches EVER! Gianna Jesson abortion survivor Full video”, YouTube 22 August, 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOWMmx6eBjU&t=89s&ab_channel=JenniferJohnson
[x] “Political push to 'protect' babies born alive after abortion,” The OZ, accessed 16 January 2023, https://www.theaustralian.com.au/the-oz/news/political-push-to-protect-babies-born-alive-after-abortion/news-story/a6fa6d5e922ae894793939d332557324
[xi] Senator Alex Antic, “Human Rights (Children Born Alive Protection) Bill 2022”, YouTube 8 December, 2022. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfJMbcCMGw4&ab_channel=SenatorAlexAntic
[xii] “Political push to 'protect' babies born alive after abortion,” The OZ, accessed 16 January 2023, https://www.theaustralian.com.au/the-oz/news/political-push-to-protect-babies-born-alive-after-abortion/news-story/a6fa6d5e922ae894793939d332557324