Lawmakers disagree on abortion bill


Staff Writer

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Two local lawmakers have offered dueling views on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.

State Rep. James Gailliard, D-Nash, voted to uphold a veto of the bill. State Sen. Rick Horner, R-Nash, voted in favor of the proposed legislation.

Senate Bill 359 was vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat from Nash County. His veto ultimately was sustained when House Republicans fell just shy of the required three-fifths override vote.

In the days that followed, Gailliard and Horner both penned letters to the editor to explain their perspective. In an effort to allow both sides the room to express their standpoint — space on the opinion page is limited — their thoughts are included in their entirely in this article.

Gailliard submitted his letter first; Horner’s letter is a rebuttal of that letter that already has appeared in other publications.

Gailliard: “I am a Whole-Life Democrat. I embrace the life of a woman, life in the womb and life in the world. I was the only Democrat to vote in support of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act in Health Committee. I also voted for that same Bill (SB 359) on the House Floor. Research reveals that it is indeed possible for a baby to survive an abortion attempt. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Florida, Arizona and Minnesota, this occurred 19 times out of 92,000 abortions. That means, statistically, this may happen about five times in North Carolina, given the current annual rate of abortions. I voted to support the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act initially because if only one of those precious lives survives, I can, with a clear conscience, vote to protect that one life. For me, this legislation is not about abortions or women’s reproductive rights but ensuring a baby born alive is given appropriate medical care.

“After these initial votes, I remained conflicted and wanted to research why North Carolina did not already have laws that would protect a child in these rare circumstances. My research found that infanticide is already illegal in our state. NC General Statute 14-17 makes it a Class B2 felony to kill a child born alive with malice and a Class A felony to kill a child with premeditation and deliberation. NC General Statute 14-18 makes it a Class F felony to kill a child through negligence. Finally, NC General Statute 14-23.1 makes it a Class D felony to unlawfully cause the death of an unborn child.

“Any baby born in our state is considered a human being and treated as such. On the very rare occurrence when doctors have not acted to save the life, they faced criminal prosecution. Current law is sufficient. SB 359 does nothing to further protect the life of a baby. Therefore, what was the intention of SB 359 when we already have laws to protect babies born alive? Given these facts, I have voted to sustain Gov. Cooper’s veto on this bill.

“Because of my whole-life commitment, it is my hope we will turn our attention to ensuring when babies enter the world, they are not subjected to food insecurity, gender inequality, economic segregation, regional health disparities, poverty, inferior public schools or low life expectancy. It’s time to shift the conversation to these pro-life issues.”

Horner: “Nash County voters were recently treated to two more examples of why character matters. First freshman Rep. James Gailliard wasted no time in recording his first “flip-flop” by changing his vote when faced with political pressure from his party. Then in an op-ed he attempted to mislead voters by citing existing statutes that don’t apply to the issue and then proclaim ‘SB 359 does nothing to further protect the life of a baby.’

“SB 359, as many of you know, was the ‘Born Alive Bill’ that attempted to force protection of the life of an infant in the rare circumstance when that infant survived a botched abortion. Again, there is factual evidence that this situation, though rare, does occur, which Rep. Gailliard seemed to admit. I agree 100 percent with his statement, ‘For me, this legislation is not about abortions or women’s rights, but ensuring a baby born alive is given appropriate medical care.’ Now what decent person among us could not agree with the last part of that sentence? I strongly supported SB 359 and thought Rep. Gailliard did as well.

“Rep. Gailliard initially did vote to protect these children but tremendous pressure was brought to bear to uphold the governor’s veto of this common sense bill and he decided to reverse his vote. In his op-ed, this pastor turned politician stated, ‘After these initial votes, I remained conflicted’ on this issue and cited three statutes: GS 14-17, GS 14-18 and GS 14-23 as basis of his newfound conviction on the subject. These can easily be found online at the NC General Assembly website.

“GS 14-17 deals with ‘Murder in the first and second degree defined; punishment.’ Specifically GS14-17(c) states: ‘For the purposes of this section, it shall constitute murder where a child is born alive but dies as a result of injuries inflicted prior to the child being born alive.’ This clearly applies to injuries to a pregnant woman that results in the death of her unborn child; if not, abortion itself would be illegal. (More about that later.)

“Rep. Gailliard says GS 14-18 ‘makes it a Class F felony to kill a child through negligence.’ This reference is completely false. GS 14-18 is about punishment for manslaughter and GS 14.18.1 and 14.18.2 are blank.

“Rep. Gailliard concludes his ‘it’s already covered in current law’ defense with GS 14-23.1 — ‘makes it a Class D felony to unlawfully cause the death of an unborn child.’ He just forgot to include GS 14-23.7-Exceptions: ‘Nothing in this Article shall be construed to permit the prosecution under this Article of any of the following: (1) Acts which cause the death of an unborn child if those acts were lawful, pursuant to the provisions of GS 14-45.1.’ This article covers what currently constitutes a legal abortion in North Carolina. The translation is that if it’s a legal abortion this statue does not apply.

“At this point I must apologize to the reader for the heavy use of quotes but as President Adams said many years ago, ‘Facts are stubborn things.’ There simply are no laws in North Carolina requiring an affirmative duty of care to infants who survive attempted abortions — none. Any claim otherwise is simply not true. SB 359 would have added this legal protection.”