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February 12, 2019 (The Daily Signal) — Conservative lawmakers in the House are trying to force a vote on a bill protecting babies born alive after abortion, after a Democrat in the Senate last week blocked Republicans in the upper chamber from passing similar legislation by unanimous consent.

“Protecting innocent life shouldn't be a partisan issue and it shouldn't be difficult,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said in a statement provided to The Daily Signal.

“Infanticide is barbaric and the growing trend of Democrats advocating it is frightening,” he added. “Republicans are united in seeing that a bill protecting babies who survived an attempted abortion urgently receives a vote on the House floor. It already passed the House with Democratic support last Congress. But so far the new Democrat majority refuse to even consider the bill. But we will ask again. And again. And again, until this body speaks up for life.”

Using a procedural tactic know as a discharge petition, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Mo., want to force a floor vote on the legislation that protects babies born alive during an abortion. Wagner, who has introduced the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, said in a statement, “To my colleagues, this is the simplest vote you will ever take: either you support babies being killed after they are born or you don't.”

Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., chairman of the Republican Study Committee, told The Daily Signal in an interview Monday that he is shocked that the legislation is even controversial.

“I will be helping to do everything I can to make sure this legislation goes to the House floor,” Johnson said. “We do not think this should be a controversial notion.”

The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act would require medical professionals to give the same medical care to a baby who survived an abortion as any other baby of the same age would receive, as well as take the baby to a hospital. If a child was intentionally killed, the abortionist would face fines or up to five years jail time, according to a press release from Scalise.

“I think it is disappointing that we have to use the discharge petition to get a vote on infanticide,” Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, told The Daily Signal Monday in a phone interview. “It is stunning to me that this discharge petition is a partisan issue, these babies are alive.”

Davidson, who said he “100 percent,” supports the effort, added that “it is stunning to me that this is not unanimous consent.

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., tried last week to hold a unanimous consent vote on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act in the Senate following New York legalizing abortion up to birth in January and the Virginia Legislature attempting to pass a similar bill. However, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., objected.

The discharge petition strategy requires at least 218 signatures to force a floor vote that would oblige the Democrat leadership of the House to bring the pro-life legislation to the floor for debate and a vote.

Discharge petitions can only be considered on the second and fourth Mondays of the month when the House is in session.

Republicans currently hold 197 seats in the minority while Democrats hold 235 seats, meaning Republicans would have to acquire 21 Democrat signatures to force a floor vote.

Scalise says he thinks some Democrats will join the discharge petition, The Hill reported, since six Democrats voted to pass the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act last January.

“Every member of Congress, regardless of party, needs to go on record against infanticide, and we must immediately take action to stop it,” Scalise said in a statement. “The American people deserve to know where their representatives stand on this critical issue.”

“Democrats have blocked House Republicans from bringing the bill to the floor under unanimous consent,” Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., said in a statement provided to The Daily Signal, adding:

They don't want to vote to protect babies who are born alive after failed abortions. Recent expansions for abortion in New York and comments relating to infanticide from Virginia's governor have sparked outrage across the country.

We're talking about living, breathing children here. I'm hopeful that we can get the 218 signatures needed to bypass Democrat leadership and get this bill to the floor for a vote. This isn't pro-life vs. pro-choice — this is about living human beings.

Published with permission from The Daily Signal.