A week of major Election Day losses for the pro-life community was capped Thursday with one more defeat: Montana voters rejected a measure that would have required medical care for infants who survive abortion, according to a call by the Associated Press.
With more than 92 percent of votes counted, Referendum 131 – known as the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act – was trailing 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent.
On the surface, the referendum appeared written for bipartisan support. It stated, in part, that a “born-alive infant, including an infant born in the course of an abortion, must be treated as a legal person under the laws of the state, with the same rights to medically appropriate and reasonable care and treatment.”
But abortion was rarely discussed in media coverage before the election. An Oct. 28 story in the Montana Free Press quoted a woman who had chosen to give birth to a baby with lethal anomalies because she wanted to hold it until it died. A doctor told the media outlets that Referendum 131 would require that the “baby be taken from her arms and undergo cold, sterile medical interventions that would have no bearing on the chance of that baby surviving.”
Wesley J. Smith, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism, believes the second section of Referendum 131 led to its defeat. That section stated: “A health care provider who is present at the time a born-alive infant is born shall take all medically appropriate and reasonable actions to preserve the life and health of the infant.”
“Here’s the problem. Sometimes preserving [the] life of an infant is not ‘appropriate’ medical treatment,” Smith wrote at NationalReview.com. “Sometimes, palliative care and/or allowing nature to take its course is the most reasonable and humane approach. … That wording allowed media and opponents to fear monger.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Mongkolchon Akesin
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.