Governor Engler signed these five bills into law on 12/31/02 and they took effect on March 31, 2003.
This act addresses cases where failed late term abortions result in children born alive. The law ensures that newborns are afforded all of the rights of legal personhood including life-sustaining treatment or humane comfort care for those too young to survive. It provides guidelines for doctors on how to treat these children as well as punishment for doctors who fail to provide treatment. Immunity from the law is provided to the mother and the Born Alive Infant Protection Act allows these children to be surrendered under the Safe Delivery Act so that they can be quickly adopted by a loving family.
There have been cases around the country in which children have survived abortion attempts and then were left to die. These children have full rights of personhood under the current law and should be provided with medical treatment rather than neglected to death. Sadly, however, this has not been the case. Jill Stanek, a nurse who used to work in the Chicago-area Christ Hospital, brought this atrocity to national attention through her personal witness. Nurse Stanek testified in front of the U.S. Congress that she and her colleagues witnessed many cases where children were left to die in soiled linen closets and on cold metal scales. She once held an aborted child for close to an hour while he died because the hospital refused to treat him.
When the Michigan Department of Community Health abortion report came out stating that in the year 2000 in Michigan, there were 18 reported abortions in which the child showed “signs of life,” legislators began to realize this phenomena was not something happening just in Illinois. The information prompted legislators to question whether abortion survivors may be mistreated in Michigan and they introduced a package of bills to address such cases. Nurse Stanek brought her compelling testimony to the Michigan legislature, testifying in support of the Born Alive Infant Protection Act.
The House package was introduced on 5/01/02 and referred to the Family & Children Services Committee. A hearing was held on 5/07/02 and the bills were passed out unanimously by pro-life and pro-choice advocates alike on 5/09/02. The bills were passed by the full House with up to 93 votes on 5/23/02 and sent to the Senate where they were referred to the Committee on Families, Mental Health, & Human Services. On 12/11/02 the committee reported the package favorably with amendments. The five bill package passed the Senate with up to 22 votes on 12/12/02. On the same day, the House concurred in the Senate amendments with over 70 votes. Governor Engler signed the bills into law on 12/31/02.