HB 233-FN with the Birdsell Amendment is a clearly-written bill that simply states an infant born alive in New Hampshire has the rights of any other person in the state. The bill applies to all infants, including one born alive in the course of an abortion.
The opposition would have our lawmakers believe this bill will lead to a nightmare scenario in which a child with only moments to live is jerked from a mothers’ arms and subjected to futile medical procedures. Although Cornerstone was not involved in preparing the original bill, this attack does not even accurately characterize the original bill. But the fact is that this scenario is unambiguously ruled out by the Birdsell Amendment.
The Birdsell Amendment ensures that the bill will only punish a health care provider who withholds treatment from an infant with the intention of causing or hastening the infant’s death, and who thereby materially hastens the infant’s death.
This amendment addresses the opposition’s argument in multiple ways. The “intention” requirement makes clear that healthcare providers will not be punished for not treating an infant that they reasonably believe is about to die. Additionally, if a baby is about to die, then withholding treatment cannot “materially hasten” the child’s death, and criminal punishment cannot be imposed.
The purpose of the bill is to recognize infants born alive as legal persons in their own right, and, as such, entitled to the same protections as any other person in the state. It does not go further than that.
The other argument made against the bill is that it is insulting to medical care providers. It is not. It simply asserts that an infant born alive has the right to appropriate medical care. As with many laws, we hope it never has to be enforced. However, in a state where abortion is legal until the very moment of birth for any or no reason – a status that the New Hampshire Medical Society and many Dartmouth physicians have fought to preserve – it provides clarity around the child’s status as a legal person once they are living outside the womb.
We strongly support HB 233-FN with the Birdsell Amendment as a commonsense clarification of the state’s compelling interest in protecting the life of every child in the state from the moment of birth. This should not be controversial.