WASHINGTON — As the annual March for Life began just blocks away from the U.S. Capitol on Friday, the House of Representatives passed a bill requiring medical care for babies surviving botched abortions.
The “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act” requires physicians and abortion facilities to provide proper medical treatment for babies born alive after an abortion. The bill mandates fines and the possibility of imprisonment for medical professionals found to be noncompliant.
“Justice and compassion took a great leap forward today,” Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List said of the bill’s passage.
“We thank Leader McCarthy and our allies in the House for holding a timely vote on this crucial bill, as hundreds of thousands of pro-life Americans rally at Congress’ doorstep,” Dannenfelser said in a Jan. 19 press release.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., says that abortionists would be required to meet the same standards of care for a child surviving an abortion as would be expected for infants of the same gestational age who were not subjects of an abortion. The law would also specifically require surviving babies to be transported to a hospital.
Women undergoing abortion could not be prosecuted under the law’s provisions, but it would give them a cause for a lawsuit if the child surviving an abortion was uncared for.
A bill already exists that orders medical professionals to provide emergency care for the infants who survive late-term abortions, but the problem, according to Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., is that the current bill has little power to be enforced.
“The problem with existing law, Mr. Speaker, is enforcement — the lack of legal implications,” Smith said Jan. 18 in a speech on the House floor.
“The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act ... requires appropriate health care to be given to any child who survives an attempted abortion,” Smith added.
Every Republican in Congress voted for the bill, as did six Democrats.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., was among Democrats opposing the bill, stating there was little evidence that doctors aren’t already providing health care for babies born after failed abortions.
“There is no evidence at all that doctors currently are failing to provide an appropriate level of care,” he said during the bill’s debate Jan. 19.
But Smith said there is no evidence for the problem because it is swept under the rug. He cited Dr. Willard Cates, former head of the Centers for Disease Control Abortion Surveillance Unit.
“[Live births] are little known because organized medicine, from fear of public clamor and legal action, treats them more as an embarrassment to be hushed up than a problem to be solved. It’s like turning yourself in to the IRS for an audit,” Smith said, quoting Cates.
The legislation needs 60 votes to pass through the Senate, which has not yet passed a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, passed by the House last year.
“We urge the Senate follow their colleagues’ lead and pass the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act as well as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would end cruel late-term abortions after five months of pregnancy,” Dannenfelser said.
In his remarks supporting the bill, Smith encouraged Americans to continue working to end abortion. From the House floor, he offered “a call to increased prayer and fasting, asking God to protect the weakest and most vulnerable.”