"Congress had received testimony that some infants who had been born alive after unsuccessful abortions were left to die..." said HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt in a press release.
"The Act reaffirms the legal principle that all infants born alive are entitled to the full protection of the law. That is a principle I will vigorously uphold as Secretary ... We took the first of these educational steps today by notifying relevant entities that we aggressively enforce federal laws that protect born-alive infants," said Leavitt.
"We issued clear guidance that withholding medical care from an infant born alive may constitute a violation of the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act and the Medicare Conditions of Participation," added Leavitt.
National Right to Life Committee Director Douglas Johnson said the 2002 Born-Alive Infants Protection law and the agency's actions to ensure compliance with the law "were both badly needed because there are those in our society who have convinced themselves that some newborn infants - particularly those born alive during abortions, or with handicaps - are not really legal persons."
According to the law, "born alive" means "the complete expulsion or extraction from his or her mother of that member, at any stage of development, who after such expulsion or extraction breathes or has a beating heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles, regardless of whether the umbilical cord has been cut, and regardless of whether the expulsion or extraction occurs as a result of natural or induced labor, cesarean section, or induced abortion."
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