Federal law already protects babies at birth

I write in response to Deneen Jo Houser Bernard’s March 8 letter [“Kaine, Warner failed to protect abortion survivors”].

I oppose infanticide and support the current federal law that bans it.

When the bill Ms. Bernard mentions (S.311) was set for a vote, I went to work to understand it. I discovered that infanticide is already illegal in every state and that Congress banned infanticide as a matter of federal law when it overwhelmingly passed the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002.

That law grants full and equal legal protection to any baby, conferring personhood status on all babies from the moment of birth, specifically including babies born alive following an abortion.

In sum, the suggested need for the bill—to ban infanticide and stop states from weakening protections for newborn babies—was misstated. When I received no information from any supporter of the bill or any medical professional adequately explaining how the existing laws were insufficient to protect all babies, I voted against proceeding to floor debate on S.311.

I can see why many misunderstood S.311. The bill’s sponsors largely ignored the fact that Congress had previously passed legislation in 2002 banning infanticide. And they forced a quick vote on this legislation rather than holding hearings, where they would have to publicly answer questions about the legislation.

To reiterate, I oppose infanticide and support the current federal law that protects all babies from the moment of birth. Our point of disagreement is not over the treatment of babies, but about whether existing law already accomplishes our shared goal.

Sen. Tim Kaine

U.S. Senate

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