WASHINGTON, D.C., February 7, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Republican lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives have re-introduced legislation forcing abortionists to give newborns medical care if they survive attempted abortions, days after Democrats blocked a version of the measure in the Senate.
The Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002 defines infants who survive abortions as “human beings,” “persons,” “individuals,” and “children” with all the rights those terms entail, but doesn’t mandate specific treatment for them. The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act would specifically require abortionists to get such babies to hospitals. The Act would also criminalize their deliberate killing after delivery.
On Wednesday, Republican Rep. Ann Wagner of Missouri and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise announced plans to file a discharge petition to force a vote on the bill in the Democrat-controlled House.
“I have been horrified to watch radical Democratic legislators argue that babies who survive abortions should not be given the same level of medical care that all other newborn babies receive,” Wagner said. “Congress must act to protect those who cannot protect themselves…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. It is time to go on the record and make clear if you think babies born alive deserve medical care, or if you think they should be left to die.”
“Innocent life must be defended and protected at every stage, and that includes babies born alive during an abortion,” Scalise declared. “The silence from Congressional Democrats is deafening and shameful. Every Member of Congress, regardless of party, needs to go on record against infanticide, and we must immediately take action to stop it. The American people deserve to know where their representatives stand on this critical issue.”
A discharge petition means that, if a bill receives the signatures of at least 218 House members (a majority), it can come to the House floor to be voted on regardless of House leadership’s opposition. There are currently 199 Republicans in the House; to succeed, the petition would need to get 19 Democrats to break ranks with their party.
When the House voted on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act in 2015, only five Democrats supported it; last March, the Weekly Standard’s John McCormack wrote that the number of pro-life House Democrats was down to three.
Nevertheless, Republicans see the bill as an opportunity to make a statement.
“You know what? If the Democrats object, we’ll ask again, and again and again because it is just right,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said. “It’s not a partisan issue – it’s about saving lives. I think everyone can agree with that. We should solve this problem this week.”
While Republicans gather signatures for the discharge petition, House Democrats have already blocked a unanimous consent resolution for the bill, just as they did with the Senate version introduced by Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska.
The new push was inspired by Virginia Democrat Del. Kathy Tran’s comments admitting that a since-tabled abortion bill would allow for aborting a baby moments before birth, and an interview in which Virginia Democrat Gov. Ralph Northam suggested an infant born alive after a failed abortion would be “resuscitated” only “if that’s what the mother and the family desired.”
Northam later claimed he was only referring to cases such as a “nonviable pregnancy” or “severe fetal abnormalities,” and subsequently declared he had no regrets about his words (Northam is now embroiled in another scandal over a yearbook photo showing him either in blackface or a Ku Klux Klan robe; the other top two Democrats in the state, in line to succeed him if he resigned, are also each embroiled in either a sexual assault or blackface scandal as well).
The born-alive bill is unlikely to pass the Democrat-controlled House, a recurring issue as pro-lifers consider how to advance the pro-life cause over the next two years. It also remains to be seen whether Republicans will make an issue of Democrats’ response to the bill beyond the current news cycle and into the 2020 elections. In his State of the Union address, President Donald Trump called on Congress to go further by passing a late-term abortion ban, as well.