At a point in our nation’s history where I fear the country is quickly losing hope in Congress’ ability to debate with civility or legislate with integrity, I thought there was at least one thing that most people agreed on: Infants with beating hearts should not be left to die.
Or so I mistakenly thought.
Of course, infanticide is illegal in the United States. But what about when it comes to an unwanted infant?
The Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act that House Republicans have now requested be brought to the floor an astonishing 80 times would simply require doctors to provide the same level of diligent medical care to a baby born after surviving an abortion as they would any other baby. It would impose criminal consequences on those who fail to do so.
On the surface, this piece of legislation may appear to be a controversial topic given the sensitive circumstances of when this law would be applied. That is why I want to make it abundantly clear that, despite what Democrats, the media, or abortion advocates say, this is not a debate about limiting access to abortion for women. This is a debate about life.
Federal law recognizes a child “born alive at any stage of development” as “persons.” So when we agree that it is morally wrong, not to mention illegal, to leave another person to die, it should be unanimously understood that those same protections apply to infants born alive after failed abortions.
But regretfully, it’s not. As of February 8, 2019, just 33 states have laws that specifically protect babies born alive during attempted abortions. As of 2016, only six states require abortion providers to even report instances of babies being born alive during the procedure. This disturbing statistic makes it nearly impossible to determine how many times babies who survived botched abortions have been denied proper medical care.
But no matter how rare, even one instance amounts to the selective killing of a newborn child.
That is why House Republicans have asked 80 times for the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act to be brought to the floor for a vote. That is why 55 Senators voted for their respective version of this bill in February. That is why this bill passed in the House last Congress with 241 votes.
But why not now? This is an opportunity for Democrats, many of whom are moving dangerously farther left every day, to shelve their partisan ploys in the name of basic morality.
Republicans didn’t feel compelled to reintroduce this bill out of nowhere. We are seeing an abhorrent trend in laws around the country in states like Virginia, Illinois, and New York, going beyond just loosening restrictions on abortions for purposes of safeguarding a mother and a baby’s health.
Let us not forget the legislative hearing in Virginia in which a delegate replied ‘yes’ when asked if the state’s law would allow for an abortion when a woman is in labor or about to give birth. After being confronted with the reality that the majority of Americans actually don’t approve of infanticide, the lawmaker claimed she “misspoke.”
And again, lest we forget, here is Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam’s response to the state’s bill: “If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen,” Northam, a doctor, said. “The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a law in January that would repeal existing protections that require doctors to render immediate care for any birth that results from an abortion, the very protections Republicans are fighting for today, and the very protections Democrats and abortion advocates say are unnecessary.
A February poll found that 77% of pro-choice Americans (yes, pro-choice Americans), oppose removing medical care for a viable child, and 82 percent of Americans in general reject removing medical care for a viable child after birth.
I am not expecting Democrats to agree with us on the abortion debate or the importance of protecting innocent life. But they are clearly more interested in trying to appease their radical left-wing than they are in listening to the overwhelming majority of Americans.
Because of this, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is forcing Republicans to use every legislative tool at our disposal to guarantee babies born alive aren’t left to die.
Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R- LA) filed a discharge petition in April that would override Pelosi’s power and bring this bill to the floor if it received 218 signatures. The bill has so far garnered 201 signatures, but I fear this new Socialist Democrat majority’s stronghold on the party will prevent the petition from reaching its necessary goal.
It shouldn’t come to this. The majority party is so divided it can’t even perform basic legislative responsibilities. I urge moderate Democrats — I know there are many who agree with us — to tell Speaker Pelosi to put the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act on the floor immediately before one more innocent infant is left to die alone.
In the meantime, Republicans will continue to ask the House to bring this bill up for an honest vote until the Democrats join us in recognizing that the right to life is the foundation of freedom itself. As Ronald Reagan rightfully observed, it is the “right without which no other rights have meaning.”
Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, is the House Minority Leader.