AB 2223: AN OPEN LETTER TO THE CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE CONCERNING THE INFANTICIDE BILL

AB 2223: AN OPEN LETTER TO THE CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE CONCERNING THE INFANTICIDE BILL

PASADENA / May 20, 2022

Dear Senators and Assemblymembers of the California State Legislature,

On behalf of the Right to Life League, I urge you to vote NO on AB 2223, the Infanticide Bill.

In yet another attempt to make it legal to kill a human baby born alive, the author has amended AB 2223. The bill continues to circumvent existing California law that requires life-saving treatment of any baby born alive, no matter the circumstances.  

Following public outcry, Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks amended AB 2223, modifying the clause “perinatal death due to a pregnancy-related cause.”  The latest amendment replaces that phraseology with yet another overbroad, vague, and undefined clause – “perinatal death due to causes that occurred in utero.”  (emphasis added).

AB 2223’s amended language – “perinatal death due to causes that occurred in utero” – does nothing to change the bill’s protections for anyone who kills a baby born alive during the first 28 days of life. It justifies and excuses the intent to kill a baby born alive by pointing to vague, blanket occurrences that happened at some undefined time prior to the baby’s birth.

Once a person is born alive, she is protected by both state and federal law. California Health and Safety Code Section 123435 protects the rights of an infant prematurely born alive in the course of an abortion. The Reproductive Privacy Act also limits the right of abortion after the age of viability in keeping with U.S. Supreme Court precedent. AB 2223, as further amended, contradicts these legal realities to protect the killing of a newborn up to 28 days old. 

Even as amended, AB 2223 intentionally chills all investigation of the CAUSE of any newborn’s death up to 28 days old, makes a coroner’s report useless, and intimidates investigators with a civil cause of action against them that can include punitive damages. Section 9’s indemnification provision is little more than lip service in the face of punitive damages.

AB 2223 will effectively prevent investigation of pediatric deaths, including pediatric abusive head trauma, a lead cause of death among infants, representing 80% of pediatric non accidental trauma deaths. This is not an idol concern. 

Pediatric abusive head trauma is defined as “an injury to the skull or intracranial contents of an infant or child younger than 5 years old caused by inflicted blunt impact, violent shaking, or both.”* Pediatric abusive head trauma can occur in utero when a person violently strikes a pregnant woman in the abdomen, injuring the baby. Shaken baby syndrome is yet another example of perinatal pediatric abusive head trauma that occurs after birth.  

AB 2223’s “Cause In Utero” Excuse would apply where fetal injury from an abuser injures the baby in utero and mom is scared of the abuser. When the baby is born alive and dies later due to the trauma suffered, mom’s boyfriend walks because mom fearfully claims the baby died from causes that occured in utero – in this example, the beating she endured. 

Mom can also proclaim her preferred pregnancy outcome retroactively. No one will question how a newborn under 28 days old died because to do so risks civil lawsuits and punitive damages. This bill provides that the mere threat of investigation triggers a cause of action against doctors, nurses or hospital staff, family or other private citizens who report infant abuse or neglect.

Why not take out the “perinatal” provision altogether?  Why not adhere to the existing California Born Alive protection? Current law requires that if a child is born alive from a botched abortion, the child must be treated and given a chance to live. In fact, Jennifer Milbourne testified before this legislature just a few weeks ago about how she survived her mother’s attempt to abort her. This bill would mean that women like Jennifer could be left in a trash bin to die and the mother and/or abortionists could simply claim that the cause of death was “in utero” abortion, and no investigation could ever occur without significant risk of liability for anyone who even threatened an investigation. 

AB 2223 operates to cover up the cause of a baby’s death. It provides abortionists and abusers legal cover to finish the job of killing an unwanted or inconvenient newborn by asserting the Cause In Utero Excuse up to 28 days after birth. The baby can be killed and any evidence explaining her death will die with her. And that seems to be the point of AB 2223’s newest perinatal death clause – to excuse and make investigation of a newborn’s death wholly unnecessary and even actionable.

Legal scholars from across California and other states have come before you time and again to explain the serious legal ramifications of this flawed bill. Attorneys for the Right to Life League have come before this legislative body repeatedly, written multiple letters, carefully and thoroughly explaining how the language of AB 2223 will promote infanticide, and how the various amendments do not address the problem. AB 2223’s latest iteration is no different. Each amendment is a failed attempt to clarify a provision which should never have been placed in the bill in the first place.

AB 2223’s flawed language creates a protected right to infanticide in violation of state and federal laws. We once again respectfully request you to reject AB 2223.

 

 

*Source: Wilson, T. A., Gospodarev, V., Hendrix, S., & Minasian, T. (2021, October 19). Pediatric abusive head trauma: ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation. Surgical neurology international. Retrieved May 19, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8571401/

Susan Swift Arnall, Esq.
susan@righttolifeleague.org

Civil Right attorney for the Unborn, Wife and Mother of 7. Member California State Bar, SAG/AFTRA.