By a comfortable margin, the General Assembly has passed a bill that requires doctors to provide care for newborn babies even if they were supposed to be killed during an abortion procedure.

Democrats, predictably, have largely opposed the bill. But the left can’t quite seem to agree on why.

The “Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act” now heads to Gov. Roy Cooper, setting up what could be the 2019 session’s first veto.

Along the way, opponents have tried out two main counterarguments for why they oppose the bill.

The first is that the bill is unnecessary and already covered under existing law.

That view was summed up by Ford Porter, spokesman for Roy Cooper:

“This unnecessary legislation would criminalize doctors for a practice that simply does not exist,” he said. “Laws already exist to protect newborn babies and legislators should instead be focused on other issues like expanding access to health care to help children thrive.”

Put another way:

“Does anyone think infanticide is legal in North Carolina?” asked Rep. Susan Fisher, D-Buncombe. “There is no problem that this bill is addressing.”

The second counterargument is quite the opposite. The ACLU of North Carolina described the legislation as an “extreme anti-abortion bill.”

Both can’t be truth. But both arguments can certainly be false.

Just because something is rare doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter.

I’m willing to grant that late-term abortions are rare, and babies born alive after an attempted abortion even rarer.

That doesn’t make this bill irrelevant.

Here’s the thing: Most crimes are rare. There were only 180 bank robberies in North Carolina in 2017, per the most recent FBI crime report. Nobody would argue that bank robbery shouldn’t be against the law. Just because something is rare does not make it not a crime and not something that should be legislated.

Further, rare does not mean nonexistent. Only a few states at this point require records to be kept regarding abortion procedures where the baby is born alive. That’s one of this bill’s strongest points: It will mandate that medical providers keep records on these procedures and make sure human babies are taken care of.

This bill doesn’t end any types of abortions. It doesn’t restrict abortions. It doesn’t threaten mothers with charges.

All it does is affirm that human beings have rights when they’re born.

Is this extreme? I don’t think so. And in any case, this bill can’t both be extreme and already accomplished at the same time.

Cover image of the General Assembly building by James Willamor via Flickr (Creative Commons


  1. “I’m willing to grant that late-term abortions are rare, and babies born alive after an attempted abortion even rarer.” Would you also grant that it’s probably as common as…oh, I don’t know….voter fraud? Or that it’s yet another bogus issue callously cooked up by the far-right NC GOP as it prepares its smear campaign agenda for 2020?

    Finally, with so many real issues to contend with –expanding Medicaid (w/o dog whistle premiums and work requirements), funding education (w/o voodoo NC GOP salary math), infrastructure, climate legislation, for starters–would you also grant that if the NC GOP really wanted to help North Carolina, it would get to work on problems that are not “rarer and rarer”? (Wasn’t that the name of a Jim Carey/Jeff Daniels movie?)

    Oh, no? You wouldn’t grant that? I thot not.

  2. Oh…I long for the good old days. When NC GOP was content with election fraud, bribery, voter suppression.


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