WASHINGTON, D.C., April 2, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — The Democrats who currently control the U.S. House of Representatives have blocked over a dozen votes on legislation to require medical care for babies who survive abortions, but Republicans hope to overcome their obstruction with a procedural tactic they deployed Tuesday.
Originally introduced in 2015 and proposed in the current session in response to comments by Virginia Democrat Gov. Ralph Northam defending the prospect of letting a disabled or “non-viable” infant die after a failed abortion attempt, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act would require abortionists to provide medical care for such babies. Under the 2002 Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, babies who survive abortions are recognized as human beings with human rights, but how specifically to handle them isn’t defined.
Late in February, the U.S. Senate voted 53-44 in favor of the bill. Despite clearing a simple majority, the vote fell short of the 60 votes necessary for the bill to overcome the current filibuster rules and pass.
All but three Senate Democrats opposed the bill, including every senator currently seeking the party’s 2020 presidential nomination.
House Democrats have repeatedly blocked efforts to bring the anti-infanticide bill up for a vote, leading House Republicans to hatch a plan to eventually force a vote by collecting 218 signatures (a simple majority) for a discharge petition. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) introduced the discharge petition Tuesday, The Hill reports.
“[House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi refuses to bring this bill up — but you know what? The good news is all of us here today have a message for Nancy Pelosi: If you don't bring it up, we'll bring it up,” Scalise declared at a press conference. “And that's what this discharge petition is about.”
“It should be the easiest decision to make, to sign the discharge petition,” he added in a statement to The Hill. “Whether you’re pro-life or pro-choice you should be able to stand up for babies who were born alive outside the womb.”
Pro-life news: @SteveScalise filed a discharge petition today to override Dems and bring the born-alive bill to the House floor. It needs 218 signatures, which will require bipartisan support. He tells me they’re already close to 100 today. I’ll have the details soon at @NRO.
— Alexandra DeSanctis (@xan_desanctis) April 2, 2019
National Review notes that to succeed, the discharge petition will require not only the support of all 197 House Republicans, but 21 Democrats to cross the aisle. Scalise expressed optimism they would come on board, telling NR “there are a number that are interested in the bill, and there are a lot who won their elections saying they are going to be pro-life[.] … If they are really pro-life, they’d sign on to this.”
Scalise also argued that because dozens of the current session’s new Democrat lawmakers campaigned as moderates and represent districts President Donald Trump won in 2016, they may support the bill out of political self-interest. That remains to be seen; only five Democrats backed the same legislation in 2015, and the number of pro-life House Democrats decreased between then and 2018.
Discharge petitions have successfully led to the passage of new laws “only twice in the last quarter-century,” according to Roll Call senior editor David Hawkings.
Nevertheless, pro-lifers are working to beat the odds in hopes of passing the measure. “As you know, this is a critical moment for the House of Representatives,” Scott Schittl, LifePetition’s campaign coordinator, said in an email to pro-lifers. “At least 19 House Democrats need to support the measure and hear this message loud and clear: The American public will not tolerate infanticide!”
Readers can click here to read, sign, and share LifeSiteNews’s petition urging the House to vote on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. At the time of this writing, the petition has amassed more than 17,900 signatures.