California Senate Committee Votes 9-2 to Pass Infanticide Bill

By 

Olivia Summers

|
June 20

5 min read

Pro Life

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At the beginning of this month, we reported that the California Assembly voted to pass AB 2223 – the infanticide bill – but only after amending it yet again. After the Assembly Floor vote, the bill moved to the state Senate and was assigned to three Senate Committees: Committee on Judiciary, Committee on Health, and Committee on Public Safety. On June 14th, the first of those committees, the Committee on the Judiciary, held a hearing during which AB 2223 was presented. Near the end of the hearing, the Committee voted 9-2 to pass the bill, and re-referred it to the Committee on Health. Now, the Senate Committee on Health is scheduled to hear the bill on June 29, 2022.

In response to the scheduled bill hearings, the ACLJ submitted a letter of opposition to the Committee on Judiciary and to the Committee on Health. In our letter, we explain why AB 2223 still legalizes infanticide, despite the Assembly’s change in wording. The amended bill now reads:

a person shall not be subject to civil or criminal liability or penalty . . . based on their actions or omissions with respect to their . . . actual, potential, or alleged pregnancy outcome, including . . . perinatal death due to causes that occurred in utero.

“[C]auses that occurred in utero” is not regularly used as a legal expression. The California Assembly chose a legally ambiguous standard to “clarify” the purpose of AB 2223.

As we noted in our letter, however:

Clearly, whether an infant’s death is due to causes that “occurred in utero” is not only a difficult thing to determine medically, but it is an imprecise standard, with no legal definition as of yet. As such, the chilling effect that AB 2223 would have on the investigations of infant death during the perinatal period may well jeopardize the safety, well-being, and lives of newborns in California up to 28 days after their birth.

. . . Because of the term’s imprecision, it opens the door to broad, subjective interpretations and enables parties to claim that an infant’s death was “due to” an event that occurred before the baby’s birth. The Bill would effectively bar any investigation to confirm the veracity of the claim. In other words, referring to “perinatal death due to causes that occurred in utero” does not in any way prevent this provision from authorizing certain types of infanticide, if they can be defined in some way as due to in utero causes. This language is still far broader than simply covering pregnancy complications.

In fact, the term “causes that occurred in utero” is used in reference to injuries discovered on a newborn. As we continued:

There are countless other examples of babies being born alive with injuries that occurred in utero, who live with appropriate medical care. Many of the examples of injuries occurring to preborn children in the womb are related to domestic abuse.

However, what is most obvious and concerning is that the legislature is attempting to shield women, and those who aid or assist them in “self-performed” abortions, from having to provide medical attention – or any attention – to babies born alive after botched abortions. California law provides, “[t]he rights to medical treatment of an infant prematurely born alive in the course of an abortion shall be the same as the rights of an infant of similar medical status prematurely born spontaneously.” This law would, sub silento, overrule those protections, and would create a sub-class of newborn human beings by taking away their right to not only medical care, but to life.

Newborn children are persons under the law, entitled to the same equal protection as any other person. Moreover, under California law a “child conceived, but not yet born, is deemed an existing person, so far as necessary for the child’s interests in the event of the child’s subsequent birth.” Cal. Civ. Code § 43.1. Newborn children possess a right to equal protection under the Constitution. C.M. v. M.C., 7 Cal. App. 5th 1188, 1210, 213 Cal. Rptr. 3d 351, 368 (2017). Newborn children are certainly persons for purposes of California law. See Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 300; In re Z.M.P., No. D041410, 2003 WL 21694634, at *1 (Cal. Ct. App. July 22, 2003) (removing a two-month-old child from parental custody). California law consistently defines [a] child as “a person under the age of 18 years.” See, e.g., Cal. Penal Code § 277(a). Newborn infants, including infants who are “72 hours old or younger,” are still considered children. Cal. Health & Safety Code § 1255.7(a)(2). And “[a] person may not be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law or denied equal protection of the laws.” Cal. Const. Art. I § 7. Newborn children merit just as rigorous legal protection as any other person.

In sum, although AB 2223 has been amended, the Bill is still problematic. It changes California law in a way that radically undermines protection for newborns. Unless the word “perinatal” is completely omitted, this law will allow certain forms of infanticide.

In addition to the opposition letter that we submitted, the ACLJ will present as witnesses, on behalf of you – our members – in opposition to AB 2223 on June 29th at the Health Committee hearing, which is why we need you to sign our petition – so that we can let the pro-abortion committee know that there are hundreds of thousands of voices standing in opposition to this horrific bill and in support of innocent babies.