Iowa is among the states that recently enacted legislation or is now bound by a state court decision that eliminates, or places at serious risk, any meaningful restriction on abortion through nine months of pregnancy. The success of abortion advocates in achieving such broad victories in targeted states, and their commitment to build on it by adding others, has added urgency to efforts at the federal level to mitigate the devastating consequences. One of those is the introduction the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which specifically addresses our obligation to not abandon the victims that survive the violence of an attempted abortion.

Every abortion is performed with the intention of ending a human life.  Many hundreds of thousands of are performed across the nation each year, but a certain percentage are failed attempts, producing the “dreaded consequence” of a live child. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control substantiate the reality of young survivors, and those that have performed abortions, or participated in them, testify to their mistreatment and abuse.

In 2002, Congress passed The Born-Alive Infants Protection Act with overwhelming bi-partisan support. The federal legislation acknowledges what the abortion process denies—the full humanity of the child that survives a failed attempt and its right to dignity and care. The recent proposal builds on that foundation by adding the legal requirement that those that perform and participate in abortions adhere to obligations set forth in 2002 act, and creates penalties for those who fail to do so. Melissa Ohden, an Iowa native, and Gianna Jessen are adult survivors of failed third-term saline abortion procedures who speak on behalf of victims in support of the proposal, and as testament to the promise of lives now discarded.

Both women address the injustice of the abortion regime in the United States, which creates two distinct classes of human beings. The distinctions are legally recognized and enforced and the consequence is the routine elimination of unborn human lives. Lives that are indistinguishable from those with the good fortune to be welcomed into the world.

The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act acknowledges that reality and the fact an infant who survives an abortion attempt has no allies or advocates. In that event, regardless of its condition or stage of development, the living child presents an unwelcome challenge to the men and women participating in the procedure to end its life. If it’s not a moral dilemma, it’s a potentially substantial legal and financial one. The obligation to provide care represents the added expense of time and effort. The threat of an already traumatized woman or girl witnessing the outcome poses a separate issue, and one that can risk the abortionist’s professional reputation.

As Catholics, we believe abortion is the direct assault on the lives and dignity of women and children and the failure of our obligation to both. Until the nation achieves the abolition of abortion on demand, and begins to address its catastrophic outcome, we can act within the bounds of current law to assist a share of its victims, if for no other reason than to defend the principle that the right to abortion cannot be interpreted to include a right to infanticide in the event of a failed attempt.

The requirement to treat a survivor of an abortion attempt in a manner that reflects his or her innate value and dignity—if not for days, then hours, or even minutes—is the request of a just and humane society. Please contact your legislator and voice your support for the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.