Valley Views for Oct. 26, 2022
A chaplain’s perspective
I would like to provide the perspective of a hospital chaplain on the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, or LR-131, on the ballot this November.
I served as a hospital chaplain for 12 years. On numerous occasions I was called to labor and delivery to provide support to parents facing the heart-rending situation of their infant’s death or imminent death. Sometimes I was there immediately after the birth to provide prayer and baptism.
Those heart-breaking tableaus are now etched into my memory. Parents cuddling, kissing and singing to their babies, knowing nothing could keep them alive. Those moments were very precious, the only memory those mothers and fathers would ever have with their live infant. Yes, they’d be able to see the body of their child after death, but they’d never embrace the warm, breathing child they loved and longed for.
If LR-131 becomes law, those infants would be taken from delivery to Intensive Care to be placed on a ventilator and undergo numerous needle insertions for testing, medicine and fluids.
I’m not referring to infants for whom survival is possible. I speak for and about infants for whom any medical intervention is futile. The physician knows it and the family knows it. That infant will only be with them for minutes or hours after birth. Nothing can change that tragic scenario. Parents just want to hold their baby and say hello and good-bye – tragically, at the same time.
LR-131 is a purely political and unnecessary attempt by the Montana Legislature to force physicians and parents into a decision that is not in the best interest of anyone. National and state laws already protect the life of any infant born with hope of survival. But when survival is not possible, families need to be able to choose how those first and last moments will be spent.
If LR-131 becomes law, it would also criminalize physicians who, acting out of compassion, provide needed, medically reasonable care to both family and infant. These are not physicians who don’t care about infant lives. I’ve seen these physicians crying with parents as they hold those fragile, precious lives for the short time they have.
Please, carefully read the actual law as proposed and know that it will do great harm to families, their dying infants, and their physicians. I urge you to vote NO on LR-131.