The James Wilson Foundation on Natural Rights and the American Founding

“The Rediscovery of the Born-Alive Act” – Prof. Hadley Arkes in The Catholic Thing

JWI Founder and Director Hadley Arkes, in an essay for The Catholic Thing titled “The Rediscovery of the Born-Alive Act,” points out the disturbing position of the nation’s political left on abortion, along with the role the media and pro-choice politicians have had in keeping bills, such as the “Born-Alive Infants’ Protection Act of 2002,” out of the public discourse.  Prof. Arkes, who convened a working group in 2015 to revisit the criminal and civil penalties that were stripped from the 2002 bill, argues that discussion of the new Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act is a modest first step toward restoring respect for the unborn. In his calls for courage and action, Prof. Arkes specifically urges Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska to follow through by bringing the Act to a final vote.

Excerpts from the piece:

“That was enough to stir into action Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, who does not miss a chance to make gestures of high moral passion, even when he is not quite prepared to do the work of following through.  Sasse had already introduced in the Senate the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,” and now he moved for a quick vote on Monday evening, to see if the bill could be passed “without objection.”

“The aim of that bill is to restore the penalties that had been stripped away from the original bill, the “Born-Alive Infants’ Protection Act of 2002.”   That earlier bill sought to plant in the law this key premise:  that a child who is born alive, surviving an abortion, has the same claim as any other human being to the protection of the law.”

“Some of us thought that we could start there, to test the limits of that “right to abortion.” We offered then the “most modest first step”:  the proposal simply to protect the child who survived the abortion.that was an offer that the defenders of abortion could not accept, for they realized that their whole position would come unraveled.  If they conceded that the child born alive was nothing less than a human child, with a claim to protection by the law, we would ask what was different about that same child five minutes earlier – then five days, five months earlier?”

“the National Organization of Women opposed this modest bill to protect the child born alive.  The irony was that our adversaries understood the bill better than our friends, because they saw the principle that lay at the heart of the thing.”



“When we settled years ago for a “teaching bill,” we thought we would be breaking out dramatic news to the public.   What we truly hadn’t anticipated was that the media would simply black out the story, giving it almost no coverage. And so this could be the moment of redemption for Ben Sasse.  The energy he expends now would have been expended with larger effect last year in bringing the bill to a vote in the Senate after it had been passed in the House.  Either the bill would have been enacted into law, or he could have forced Democrats to take positions on this issue before the mid-term elections.”


Read the whole essay here:



Tags: , , , , ,

Law and liberty cannot rationally become the objects of our love, unless they first become the objects of our knowledge.
— James Wilson, Lectures on Law, 1790