WASHINGTON — The U.S. House on Wednesday approved its first abortion-related measures under a new Republican majority, eliciting strong support from GOP members and opposition from Democrats, who rejected the legislation as misleading and incomplete.
Republicans, who secured a four-seat majority during the November midterm elections, said the bill setting medical standards on a national level for a baby born after an attempted abortion and a resolution condemning violence against anti-abortion organizations are central to the party’s ideals.
Democrats contended the medical standards bill from GOP Rep. Ann Wagner of Missouri would circumvent health care providers’ medical judgment.
“Despite what its supporters would have us believe, this legislation would do nothing to enhance protections or the quality of health care if an infant is born after an attempted abortion,” New York Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler said during floor debate.
“What it would do, however, is directly interfere with a doctor’s medical judgment and dictate a medical standard of care that may not be appropriate in all circumstances, which could in fact put infants’ lives at greater risk,” Nadler added.
Wagner urged support for her bill, saying lawmakers were “considering the protection of infants that have been delivered alive after an attempted abortion.”
“That’s it — plain and simple.” Wagner said.
Rep. Kat Cammack, a Florida Republican, said that “federal law currently recognizes these babies as persons, but fails to outline any requirements of care after the infant is born alive.”
Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Madeleine Dean urged the House to reject the bill, saying Republicans were either unaware infanticide was an already existing crime or engaged in “another extreme political stunt.”
“Politicians have no business making unsound medical decisions. We are legislators, not doctors,” Dean said. “And in the unfortunate case when a child is born with fatal disabilities, this legislation will deny parents a say in how their child spends the final minutes, hours or days of his or her life — whether hooked up to a medical device or in the arms of his parents.”
House lawmakers, who are in their first week of work after Republicans elected a speaker early Saturday on a 15th ballot, ultimately voted 220-210 to approve Wagner’s legislation. It would reinforce the core elements of a 2002 law that passed the U.S. House on a voice vote and the U.S. Senate by unanimous consent.
Texas Democrat Henry Cuellar voted for the bill while Vicente González, also a Texas Democrat, voted present.
Little future in Senate
The bill passed Wednesday, which is unlikely to make it through the Democratic Senate or be signed into law by President Joe Biden, says that if “an abortion results in the live birth of an infant, the infant is a legal person for all purposes under the laws of the United States.” Read more