Background: This measure defines the words “person,” “human being,” “child,” and “individual” to include “every infant member of the species homo sapiens who is born alive at any stage of development.” The purpose of this legislation is to ensure that all infants who are born alive are treated as persons for purposes of federal law. The Born-Alive Infants Protection Act was first introduced in Congress in 2000. That year the House approved the measure 380-yes, 15-no, but objections were made to proceeding in the Senate. Subsequently, major pro-choice groups formally withdrew their opposition to the bill.
House: On March 12, 2002, the House bill, H.R. 2175, was considered on the House floor under suspension of the rules and was passed by voice vote.
On March 14, 2002, H.R. 2175 was read the second time and placed on the Senate’s calendar. Senate: On July 18, 2002, the Senate passed H.R. 2175 without amendment by Unanimous Consent.
The text of the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act had been attached in the House and Senate to separate freestanding patients’ rights bills (H.R. 2563 and S. 1052) but no further action was taken on these measures. The June 29, 2001 Senate vote attaching the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act (S. 1050) to S. 1052 was 98-yes, 0-no, 2-not voting.
Law: On August 5, 2002, President Bush signed H.R. 2175 into law (Public Law 107-207). At the signing ceremony the president stated: “The Born Alive Infants Protection Act is a step toward the day when every child is welcomed in life and protected in law.” Hadley Arkes, the architect of the act, characterizes the law as “spare” in language but “truly momentous.” This legislation “provides a predicate that can be built into the foundation now of every subsequent act of legislation touching the matter of abortion: that the child marked for abortion is indeed a <person< who comes within the protection of the law” (National Review, 7/31/2002). Applauding enactment of this measure, Cathleen Cleaver, Director of Planning and Information for the USCCB’s Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, stated, “This new law ensures that the lethal mentality of Roe does not claim new victims– vulnerable human beings struggling for their lives outside the womb.”