House Republicans passed the first post–Roe v. Wade abortion bill, which would criminalize doctors for doing their job.
The so-called Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act passed the House Wednesday afternoon 220–210, largely along party lines. Though the bill is unlikely to pass the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats, it reveals Republicans’ priority now that they have control of the House.
The bill would require medical care be given to infants born alive during or after an attempted abortion, something that rarely happens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health care providers who fail to comply would face fines or up to five years in prison.
Abortion rights advocates argue that such a measure is both unnecessary—intentionally killing a living newborn is already classified as a homicide—and harmful, as it could negatively affect care for babies born prematurely or with fatal abnormalities by preventing doctors from helping relieve any pain those babies might be in or by punishing medical professionals who let families hold such newborns before they die.
In the clearest sign that Republicans simply cannot (or will not) read the room when it comes to abortion, Montana residents voted solidly to reject a similar measure at the state level during the November midterms.
Abortion rights group NARAL Pro Choice America slammed the bill as part of the Republicans’ “dishonest and out-of-touch crusade against reproductive freedom.”
“Despite the irrefutably clear message sent by voters last November in support of abortion rights, Speaker Kevin McCarthy and the House GOP are undeterred from moving to further restrict abortion for all Americans,” NARAL said in a statement.
The House also passed a bill condemning attacks on anti-abortion centers in the wake of Roe being overturned—but made no mention of the fact that reproductive health centers and care providers have been victims of often deadly attacks for decades.
Voters have made their stance on abortion abundantly clear: The overwhelming majority of the population supports legalizing the procedure. Democrats ran on aggressively pro-abortion platforms during the midterms and achieved historic victories as a result.
Representative Nancy Mace criticized her fellow Republicans Monday for introducing the abortion bills, saying, “We learned nothing from the midterms if this is how we’re going to operate in the first week.”
The House is “paying lip service to life” because “nothing that we’re doing this week on protecting life is ever going to make it through the Senate,” she argued.