(The Center Square) – Two Republican U.S. senators introduced a bill to provide medical care to babies born alive after surviving an abortion.
They did so after a similar measure passed in the House last month by a vote of 220-210 with all but two Democrats, both from Texas, voting against the bill.
The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, filed by Sens. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, and John Thune, R-South Dakota, would require abortion facilities and medical providers to treat babies born alive despite a failed abortion with the same level of care as they would other newborns. It states that an infant born alive from an abortion is a legal person under the law and is entitled to all legal protections.
The bill states, “Any health care practitioner present at the time the child is born alive shall (A) exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as a reasonably diligent and conscientious health care practitioner would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age; and (B) following the exercise of skill, care, and diligence required under subparagraph (A), ensure that the child born alive is immediately transported and admitted to a hospital.”
It also adds penalties for medical providers for noncompliance, including civil liability and criminal charges that carry fines and or imprisonment of up to five years.
The bill defines “abortion” as “the use or prescription of any instrument, medicine, drug, or any other substance or device – (A) to intentionally kill the unborn child of a woman known to be pregnant; or (B) to intentionally terminate the pregnancy of a woman known to be pregnant, with an intention other than – (i) after viability, to produce a live birth and preserve the life and health of the child born alive; or (ii) to remove a dead unborn child.”
According to the CDC, at least 143 babies were born alive after an attempted abortion between 2003 and 2014, based on data from only eight states that report this information.
If the Senate were to pass the bill, which it is unlikely to do with a Democratic majority, President Joe Biden would veto it, having already expressed opposition to the bill passed in the House.
And while pro-life groups have advocated the Senate pass the bill, congressional Democrats have called on the administration to issue a public health emergency to protect abortion access. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra told Axios he was considering ways to do so.
“There are certain criteria that you look for to be able to declare a public health emergency,” he said. “That’s typically done by scientists and those that are professionals in those fields who will tell us whether we are in a state of emergency and based on that, I have the ability to make a declaration.” He didn’t say what a declaration on abortion would look like and what conditions would merit it.
“We are constantly exploring additional actions we can take to protect and expand access to reproductive health care, including abortion care, and are prioritizing the actions that can give us the highest impact and most durable solutions,” an HHS spokesperson told Axios.
Any such attempts would be fought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, and others, who’ve pushed back against a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) policy that removed restrictions to access specific abortion-inducing drugs.
“The FDA’s dereliction of duty will not prevent” him and “allied attorneys general from protecting their citizens’ health,” Paxton said in a statement on Friday. While the FDA “has abdicated its responsibility to protect women’s health,” he said he “has not.”
Paxton has fought every attempt made to violate Texas’ abortion prohibition, including winning an injunction last August against Beccera from using the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act to require Texas hospitals and doctors to perform abortions.
“The court’s decision to side with Texas is a crucial step in preventing Joe Biden and his radical pro-abortion administration from breaking the law and threatening our entire healthcare industry by withholding federal funds,” Paxton said at the time. “We’re not going to allow left-wing bureaucrats in Washington to transform our hospitals and emergency rooms into walk-in abortion clinics ….
“No matter how many backdoors Joe Biden attempts to go through to illegally force abortions in Texas, I will fight back to defend our pro-life laws and Texas mothers and children.”