On Wednesday, House Republicans passed legislation requiring that doctors care for infants born alive after failed abortions, prompting hysterical reactions from their Democratic colleagues, who insisted the legislation poses a threat to the infants that it seeks to protect.
The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act would require that treatment be administered to fetuses who survive botched abortions. Under the bill, health-care practitioners who witness a child’s birth after a failed abortion are mandated to perform life-saving “professional skill, care, and diligence” and ensure the child is transported and admitted to a hospital afterwards if the birth took place outside of one. Any medical employee of a hospital, physician’s office, or abortion clinic who has knowledge of a physician’s negligence to provide care must report the case.
On the House floor, Democratic Representative Suzanne Bonamici called the “born-alive” bill “extremist, dangerous and unnecessary.” She decried the provision for the punishment of up to five years in prison for doctors that refuse to provide healthcare to the abortion victim. Under the bill, an individual who intentionally kills or attempts to kill a child born alive is subject to prosecution for murder.
Democratic House Whip Katherine Clark said the name of the bill was “deliberately misleading and offensive to the women who face pregnancy complications and the doctors and nurses who provide their care.” The bill is also not based on “science,” she alleged.
The bill defines abortion as the “use or prescription of any instrument, medicine, drug, or any other substance or device” to terminate a pregnancy.
Democratic Representative Jerry Nadler of New York objected to the part of the bill that instructs doctors to bring the struggling baby to the hospital after administering care.
“The problem with this bill is that it endangers some infants by stating that that infant must immediately be brought to the hospital,” he said. “It directs and mandates certain medical care that may not be appropriate.”
Democratic Representative Jan Schakowsky also argued that taking the child to the hospital after treatment could be harmful. The legislation “requires immediately taking a struggling baby to a hospital. That hospital could be hours away and could be detrimental to the life of that baby,” she said. Schakowsky did not say whether she would support the measure in the absence of that provision.
The bill passed the House Wednesday evening, with every Republican voting in favor and every Democrat voting against except for two members, one of whom voted present.
Dr. Christina Francis, CEO-elect of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists – the largest organization of such doctors in the U.S.- applauded the House’s passage of the “born alive” bill.
“We always care for two patients in the delivery room: mother and baby. It is our duty as physicians to provide both of them optimal care. We cannot discriminate against care based on the circumstances or location of a child’s birth. When a baby is born — that baby deserves age-appropriate medical attention and care, without exception,” she said in a statement.
The GOP also proposed a resolution asking Congress to condemn recent attacks on pro-life facilities, groups, and churches since the Supreme Court’s leaked decision that overturned Roe v. Wade. The text cites many incidents of violence and vandalism, including break-ins and firebombings, against pregnancy centers and churches perpetrated by pro-abortion terrorists over the last year. On Wednesday night, the resolution also passed the House, with all Republicans approving and all but three Democrats opposing.
Both measures are unlikely to pass in the Senate, which is narrowly controlled by Democrats.
In her argument against the resolution, Democratic Representative Jan Schakowsky declared: “We have to make sure that people who are pro-life and pro-people who support abortion rights, and we support life, are included in opposing violence.”
Newly elected Democratic Representative Maxwell Frost, the first Gen-Z member of Congress, accused Republicans of applying a double standard in denouncing abortion-related violence. “My colleagues on the other side … they’re not willing to condemn all violence,” he said.
Frost said that his birth mother putting him up for adoption instead of aborting him was a “deeply personal” decision. It “can often mark one of the most vulnerable points in a person’s life,” he said.
Some Democratic House members invoked their religious beliefs to justify abortion, claiming that Christianity condones the procedure.
“As a pro-choice Christian who chose life, this issue is personal to me… When I read scripture, I turn to Jeremiah 1:5 which states ‘I knew you before I formed you and placed you in your mother’s womb.’ It doesn’t say the government’s womb,” Democratic Representative Hillary Scholten said before the chamber.
Democratic Representative Sheila Jackson said: “As a person of faith, I believe it should be between that woman, that family, that God, and that doctor.”