SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Despite the strong objections voiced by the thousands of people that gathered at the California State Capitol on Tuesday, the Assembly Health Committee passed AB 2223 out of committee by a vote of 11 to 3. The bill will go next to the Assembly Appropriations Committee before making its way to the Assembly floor.
The proposed law has sparked public opposition due to its unprecedented callousness toward the life of babies before and immediately after birth.
In its opening paragraphs, AB 2223 describes the purpose of the legislation "that there shall be no civil and criminal penalties for people's actual, potential, or alleged pregnancy outcomes." To achieve this controversial goal, the bill removes legal penalties for a mother and any accomplice for the death of an unborn child but also for "perinatal death," terminology that allows for death after a live birth. Inclusion of the obscure terminology "perinatal death" has caused the bill's opponents to assert that the bill legalizes infanticide.
Additionally, AB 2223 forces law enforcement to stand down by creating a right to sue law enforcement officers and agencies for even investigating a "pregnancy outcome."
"If passed, this bill would enshrine in law the notion of 'my baby, my choice'" said Karen England, President of Capitol Resource Institute. "Confronted with a dead baby, law enforcement and everyone else is supposed to ask no questions. They cannot ask if the baby was born alive and then left to die or was killed. They cannot ask if the baby was the result of an illegal, botched or forced abortion. AB 2223 says it is not the business of law enforcement or anybody else, and we can sue you if you ask questions."
The author of AB 2223 attempted damage control on the charge that the bill would hide infanticide, by modifying the bills most controversial term to "perinatal death due to a pregnancy related-cause." While this new terminology is not defined in the bill or anywhere in California law, critics have quickly noted that this terminology still allows for death of a baby born alive and the proposed law would prevent law enforcement from investigating whether or not the death of the baby was a violation of the law.
The effort to keep law enforcement in the dark has not gone unnoticed by critics of AB 2223. Karen England asks, "Why is this bill not going through the Assembly Committee on Public Safety. The bill directs local coroners not to look into dead babies that might show up in their jurisdictions and tells policeman that they will be sued if they investigate or threaten arrest."