Newsbreak

Sponsor of California bill that would have allowed infanticide changes bill’s wording

California legislature, California

Update 4/18/22: The sponsor of California’s Assembly Bill 2223, which originally appeared to allow for infanticide, has filed amendments to the bill to change the language. Rather than stating that “a person shall not be subject to civil or criminal liability or penalty, or otherwise deprived of 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 amendment from sponsor Buffy Wicks changes the phrasing to read, “perinatal death due to a pregnancy-related cause.” Section 7a in full now states:

Notwithstanding any other law, a person shall not be subject to civil or criminal liability or penalty, or otherwise deprived of their rights under this article, 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 due to a pregnancy-related cause.

According to Reuters, Farah Diaz-Tello, J.D., Senior Counsel & Legal Director at If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice, “The bill as written reinforces existing California law that protects people from being criminalized based on an accusation that something they did or did not do during pregnancy caused a certain pregnancy outcome.”

However, the bill fails to define what is meant by “perinatal death.” The amendment implies that the bill would not allow newborns to be actively killed in acts of infanticide, which is outlawed under the state’s penal code stating, “Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought.” However, it does not appear to rule out infanticide altogether. It also implies that those behind the bill felt it necessary to clarify, and thereby admit that the original wording of the bill could have allowed for infanticide.

A representative for Wicks told Reuters that the “overall intention of the bill is to ensure that no one in the State of California is investigated, persecuted, or incarcerated for ending a pregnancy or experiencing pregnancy loss.” This means that a person who uses drugs with the knowledge that those drugs could cause the child to die after birth would not face any charges for the child’s death.

“These amendments added ‘perinatal death due to pregnancy related cause,'” explained Theresa Brennan, Esq., president of Right to Life League. “The amendments do not address the fact that the bill would continue to chill reporting and investigations of ANY perinatal death because, whether that death was ‘pregnancy related’ or not could only be determined after investigation. If it turned out the infant’s death was ‘pregnancy related,’ a term which is undefined, overbroad, and meaningless since even birth is pregnancy related, an immediate private cause of action (with damages starting at $25,000 and attorney’s fees) could be taken against the person who did the investigation. The real aim of this bill is to cover up and block any investigation into late term chemical abortions which studies have proven will result in live births.”

4/6/22: A California Assembly committee has passed a shocking bill that includes wording many experts believe could legalize infanticide, allowing newborns to die during the perinatal period after birth.

The Assembly Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Assembly Bill 2223 on Tuesday. The main supporters of the bill, according to Sarasota-Manatee Right to Life, are abortion organizations, including Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and the ACLU. The six Democrats on the committee ruled in favor of the bill, while the three Republicans voted against it.

The bill states (emphasis added):

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.

According to attorney Wesley Smith, this means that during the perinatal period following the child’s birth, a mother can make decisions to act or not act when it comes to whether or not her infant lives or dies. Authorities would be prohibited from charging a mother for any “actions or omissions” related to miscarriage, stillbirth, abortion, or perinatal death.

As reported by the California Family Council, mothers who kill their babies in the perinatal period would be protected from prosecution. The bill’s wording would also protect abortionists who kill abortion survivors.

READ: California bill would remove doctor oversight from abortions done by nurses and midwives

Attorney Susan S. Arnall of the Right to Life League explained, “AB 2223 literally decriminalizes infanticide — the killing of babies up to a month old and maybe older. It does this by eliminating civil and criminal penalties for abortions including ‘perinatal death.’ The bill doesn’t define the term ‘perinatal’ – but it doesn’t have to.”

Americans United for Life warned about the bill’s lack of definition for “perinatal” could also “legalize child abandonment” immediately following the birth or shortly after. In addition, the bill would allow any mother who is arrested regarding the death of her baby within the six weeks after birth to sue the police for monetary damages plus attorney’s fees.

“If a child is found in a dumpster can law enforcement investigate the child’s death? Probably not under AB 2223,” the organization wrote in a statement to the Legislature.

“As currently in print, it may not be sufficiently clear that ‘perinatal death’ is intended to be the consequence of a pregnancy complication,” the Assembly Judiciary Committee bill analysis states. “Thus, the bill could be interpreted to immunize a pregnant person from all criminal penalties for all pregnancy outcomes, including the death of a newborn for any reason during the ‘perinatal’ period after birth, including a cause of death which is not attributable to pregnancy complications, which clearly is not the author’s intent.”

The bill will now move to the Assembly Health Committee. If approved there, it will be sent to the full California Assembly.

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