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The House Has Passed the ‘born Alive’ Abortion Bill

House Republicans are emphasizing abortion as they lay out their legislative agenda for the new Congress, following the Supreme Court’s historic decision last summer to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. The Republican-led House voted on Wednesday to enact legislation requiring healthcare practitioners to try to save an infant’s life if a newborn is born alive during or after an abortion attempt.

The bill is unlikely to be debated in the Democratic-controlled Senate, but success in the House provides an opportunity for the incoming Republican majority to send a message. The result was 220 to 210 in favor. Health professionals that fail to comply with the requirements for care might face penalties or up to five years in prison under the measure. The bill would not impose any fines on the mother and would shield her from any type of prosecution.

Protesters hold signs in support of Planned Parenthood at a rally. Meet the organization that protects patients from demonstrators outside abortion clinics. Opponents claim that such legislation restricts abortion access by endangering healthcare professionals. In the United States, purposefully killing an infant who is born alive is already deemed a homicide.

The new Republican majority’s decision to conduct the vote comes after Democrats worked hard to make abortion a central issue in the midterm elections following Roe’s reversal. Republicans reclaimed control of the House in the midterm elections, but the much-anticipated “red wave” failed to materialize, raising doubts – and finger-pointing inside the GOP – about which variables played a crucial role in the outcome.

The bill, known as the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,” was launched on Monday by Republican Rep. Ann Wagner of Missouri. On Tuesday, NARAL Pro-Choice America, along with many other organizations, issued a statement opposing the bill.

“These proposals make it clear: House Republicans are openly rejecting the will of the enormous majority of Americans who voted in November to support legal abortion,” said Mini Timmaraju, president of the organization. “In the meantime, our Democratic reproductive freedom fighters in the House are ready and eager to battle to restore and extend abortion access—for which we appreciate them.”

On Wednesday, the House also voted to condemn “recent attacks on pro-life facilities, groups, and churches.” Republicans have a razor-thin majority in the House, and the ideological contrasts between moderates and conservatives were on full display during the frenzied, days-long campaign to install Kevin McCarthy as speaker.

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The new Republican majority now has the problem of bringing proposals to the floor that will unite rather than divide their conference – and Republicans are striving to thread the needle. Rep. Nancy Mace, a South Carolina Republican who has been a vocal critic of her party’s abortion messaging, urged Republican leadership on Wednesday to strike a balance between “women’s rights” and the “right to life,” warning that Republicans face “political dangers” if they do not “find some middle ground on the issue.”

“I have been quite vocal, both privately and publicly, with my leadership,” Mace added. “This is an issue where we failed. We buried our heads in the sand after Roe v. Wade and lost seats as a result.” Mace voted in favor of both abortion-related proposals on the House floor on Wednesday but expressed concern about a future federal abortion ban if it includes language requiring women to report rapes or imprisoning doctors who perform the surgery.

When asked how the GOP can better address women’s rights, Mace, a rape victim who has spoken out, said she is working on legislation connected to rape kits as well as legislation improving access to birth control. “It will be interesting to watch how seriously those things are taken,” she added.

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