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Abortion survivors deserve protection

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Nash County voters were recently treated to two more examples of why character matters.

First, freshman Rep. James Gailliard wasted no time in recording his first “flip-flop” by changing his vote when faced with political pressure from his party. Then in an op-ed “Whole-life, pro-life and existing laws,” he attempted to mislead voters by citing existing statutes that don’t apply to the issue and then proclaim “SB 359 does nothing to further protect the life of a baby.”

SB 359, as many of you know was the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act that attempted to force protection of the life of an infant in the rare circumstance when that infant survived a botched abortion. Again, there is factual evidence that this situation, though rare, does occur, which Rep. Gailliard seemed to admit.

I agree 100% with his statement “For me, this legislation is not about abortions or women’s rights, but ensuring a baby born alive is given appropriate medical care.” Now, what decent person among us could not agree with the last part of that sentence? I strongly supported SB 359 and thought Rep. Gailliard did as well.

Rep. Gailliard initially did vote to protect these children, but tremendous pressure was brought to bear to uphold the governor’s veto of this common-sense bill and he decided to reverse his vote. In his op-ed, this pastor turned politician stated “after these initial votes, I remained conflicted” on this issue and sited three statutes: GS 14-17; GS 14-18 and GS 14-23 as basis of his newfound conviction on the subject. These can easily be found online at the N.C. General Assembly website.

GS 14-17 deals with “Murder in the first and second degree defined; punishment.” Specifically, G.S. 14-17(c) states: “For the purposes of this section, it shall constitute murder where a child is born alive but dies as a result of injuries inflicted prior to the child being born alive.” This clearly applies to injuries to a pregnant woman that results in the death of her unborn child if not abortion itself would be illegal. (More about that later.)

Rep. Gailliard says GS 14-18 “makes it a Class F felony to kill a child through negligence.” This reference is completely is false. GS 14-18 is about punishment for manslaughter and GS 14.18.1 and 14.18.2 are blank.

Rep. Gailliard concludes his “it’s already covered in current law” defense with GS 14-23.1 – “makes it a Class D felony to unlawfully cause the death of an unborn child.” He just forgot to include GS 14-23.7 - Exceptions. “Nothing in this Article shall be construed to permit the prosecution under this Article of any of the following: (1) Acts which cause the death of an unborn child if those acts were lawful, pursuant to the provisions of GS 14-45.1” This article covers what currently constitutes a legal abortion in North Carolina. The translation is that if it’s a legal abortion, this statue does not apply.

At this point I must apologize to the reader for the heavy use of quotes, but as President Adams said many years ago, “Facts are stubborn things.”

There simply are no laws in North Carolina requiring an affirmative duty of care to infants who survive attempted abortions — none. Any claim otherwise is simply not true. SB 359 would have added this legal protection.

Thank you for the continued opportunity to serve you.

Sen. Rick Horner, R-Nash, represents N.C. Senate District 11, which includes all of Nash County and northwestern Johnston County. A former Nash-Rocky Mount school board member, Horner co-chairs the Senate Committee on Education and Higher Education.

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