From Douglas Kmiec’s 2008 book Can a Catholic Support Him?:
So what does the ‘Born Alive’ Act do? Largely, it redefines what it means to be ‘born alive.’ From the time of ancient common law, ‘born alive’ has meant live birth at or near the end of a full term pregnancy with a reasonable prospect of survival. If a woman sadly miscarries earlier and expels a nonviable, but temporarily alive, unborn child with a transient heartbeat, there isn’t a county recorder in the country who would record a live birth. The miscarriage is sad enough; we don’t worsen it with the grief of death before life has meaningfully taken hold. But that’s what the ‘Born Alive’ Act does. For the most part, it redefines live birth to include nonviable unborns who lack any meaningful chance of survival. (pg. 65)
For Kmiec, certain children cannot even be said to have been born: their mothers unceremoniously “expel” them from their wombs. Like that, whatever our pay grade, we are deciding whether life has or has not “meaningfully taken hold”—and what counts as meaningful is up to us.
Four years ago, defending President Obama’s abortion record led a supposedly pro-life legal scholar to endorse the murder of living infants. Let’s hope things don’t go so far this time around.