By Jennifer Popik, J.D., Director of Federal Legislation National Right to Life
With Republicans officially taking the helm of the House of Representatives late last Friday night, it was clear that the new leadership of the 118th House has new priorities when it comes to the life issue. Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Majority Leader Steve Scalisewasted no time in bringing two important pro-life votes to the House floor.
The first of two measures that passed today were the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (H.R. 29) by a vote of 220-210. All Republicans voted in favor and all but one Democrat opposed the measure. One Democrat voted present.
In addition, a resolution condemning violence against pro-life pregnancy care centers, pro-life groups, and churches (H.Con.Res 3) passed by a vote of 222-209. All Republicans voted in favor, and all but three Democrats opposed the measure.
Rep. Diana Degette (D-Co.) offered a motion to recommit following debate over the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. The motion to recommit would have amended the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act to include the radical “Women’s Health Protection Act.” The motion failed by a party line vote 212-219.
The so-called Women’s Health Protection Act would invalidate nearly all state limitations on abortion, including waiting periods and women’s right-to-know laws. It would require all states to allow abortion even during the final three months of pregnancy based on an abortionist’s claim of “health” benefits, including mental health. It would also invalidate nearly all existing federal laws limiting abortion.
Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (H.R. 29)
In the wake of the Dobbs v. Jackson decision, several states are moving not only to fully legalize abortion up to the moment of birth, but are going to great lengths to insulate abortion providers from even the most basic scrutiny. Against this backdrop, there is renewed urgency to pass the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.
In 2002, Congress approved, without a dissenting vote, the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act (BAIPA). This important law states that “every infant member of the species homo sapiens who is born alive at any stage of development” is a “person” for all federal law purposes.
However, in the years since the BAIPA was enacted, evidences have multiplied that some current federal law does not sufficiently protect a child born following an abortion. Shockingly, there are some abortion providers who do not regard babies born alive during abortions as persons, and do not provide them with the types of care that would be provided to premature infants who are born spontaneously.
The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act requires, when a baby is born alive following an abortion, that health care practitioners must exercise the same degree of professional skill and care that would be offered to any other child born alive at the same gestational age. It also requires that, following appropriate care, health care workers must transport the living child immediately to a hospital.
The resolution was sponsored by Representative Ann Wagner (R-MO) with House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA), and Representative Kat Cammack (R-FL)
According to National Right to Life President Carol Tobias, “There is no such thing as a ‘post-birth abortion.’ This bill isn’t about interfering with a so-called right to abortion. It is about stopping infanticide.”
Abortion survivor Melissa Ohden, survivor of a failed 1977 saline infusion abortion, has testified before Congress on numerous occasions. According to her June 16, 2021 testimony before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Constitution, “…I’m alive today because someone else’s ‘reproductive right’ failed to end my life. The 384 abortion survivors we’ve connected with through The Abortion Survivors Network, the overwhelming majority of whom are female, live with this same collective grief.”
Several of these abortion survivors were present on Capitol Hill today to meet with members around the vote.
Resolution Condemning Violence Against Pro-life Pregnancy Care Centers, Pro-Life Groups, and Churches (H.Con.Res 3)
The other pro-life measure voted on was H. Con. Res. 3 which expressed the sense of the House of Representatives condemning the recent attacks on pro-life facilities, groups, and churches. The resolution was sponsored by Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.).
The Biden Administration has systematically failed to respond to numerous attacks on pregnancy care centers, pro-life groups, and churches that occurred in reaction to the Dobbs v. Jackson Supreme Court decision. There have been over 100 documented incidents in the time after the leaked Dobbs decision until today.
The resolution condemns “recent attacks of vandalism, violence, and destruction against pro-life facilities, groups, and churches,” and calls on the Biden Administration to use its authority to protect the rights of such organizations.
Nearly 3,000 pregnancy centers serve about 2 million clients annually, saving local communities millions of dollars by providing services at little to no cost. Many pregnancy centers provide limited obstetrical ultrasounds under a local doctor’s oversight as well as parenting classes. In addition, nearly all centers provide material assistance such as diapers, cribs, and car seats as well as practical help such as connecting a mother in need to local resources that can help her with housing or transportation.
With the Senate under Democrat control, these bills face steep odds in the Senate.