When it comes to abortion, there are definitely philosophical differences between the Republican and Democratic parties—however, there is something that both sides should be able to agree on. Every child born alive, regardless of the situation or circumstances of his or her birth, every child should receive dedicated and, if necessary, life-saving care by medical professionals.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case in hospitals and abortion clinics across the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Abortion Surveillance Report has shown that there were at least 143 babies born alive after failed abortion attempts between 2003-2012. None of those babies survived. House Bill 962 is attempting to change that. Known as the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, the bill would require medical professionals to administer live saving medical treatment to any child born alive after an abortion. 

Leading the charge is House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), who held a hearing this week about the bill with 40 other House members. It was a strong contingent and a great reflection of the strong pro-life sentiment within the House. 

In an interview with The Daily Citizen, Whip Scalise said, “I thought the hearing was really important to highlight the fact that there are babies who are actually born alive as a result of a failed abortion attempt.” “And yet those babies don’t have federal protections under the law that they deserve. As we saw at the hearing, there are well known cases of this happening across the country.”

Jill Stanek, a former nurse, shared with members of Congress at the hearing about how she held a dying baby born alive after an abortion. The child, who was likely aborted because of a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome, struggled for breath in his short time on earth. 

“He was 21 to 22 weeks old,” Stanek said. “He weighed about 1/2 pound and was about the size of my hand. Toward the end he was so quiet I couldn’t tell if he was still alive unless I held him up to the light to see if his heart was still beating through his chest wall.”

Her testimony was powerful and poignant, but partisan politics remained at play. Despite a strong showing of House Representatives and a discharge petition that has received bipartisan support with 203 of the 218 signatures needed to bring this bill to the floor, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi refused to allow the group to use one of the empty committee rooms for the hearing. 

“When we were setting this hearing up for the Born Alive bill,” Scalise said. “There were committee rooms that were vacant and available at the time we had the hearing, but Speaker Pelosi wouldn’t let us have those rooms. So, we set up our own hearing room and we had a packed house. It was an overflow crowd of members of Congress, and we had powerful witnesses. President Trump wants to sign this bill, so we need to fight to get this bill on the floor.” 

Scalise believes that if the legislation does come to the House floor, the bill will pass and rankle Democrat leadership.

“Speaker Pelosi and other people have tried denying that this exists,” Whip Scalise said. “And I don’t want our bill to come up on the wrong side of history. We’re going to keep persisting until we get a vote on the Born Alive Act that gives full federal protection to those babies who are born alive and make sure that they get the same medical care as anybody else. It’s hard for me to comprehend how there are people who think it is okay to kill a baby born alive outside the womb. I think its murder, it should already be murder, but it’s not in many states.

In addition to requiring medical providers to do all that they can to help a preborn child, the bill also requires that hospitals and abortion clinics report the number of failed abortions that occur. To receive a vote on the House floor, the discharge petition still needs 15 signatories.

Scalise said, “I’ve encouraged people all around the country who are passionate about getting this bill brought to the floor to reach out to their own member of Congress and ask if they’ve signed the discharge petition. A lot of members of Congress who go back home and say they are pro-life but won’t support this bill to protect babies. We need to keep the pressure up and educate people across the country.” 

The other thing that pro-life supporters can do is pray. 

“Call your member of Congress and pray that we are one day able to protect innocent life in all stages. Prayer and action,” Whip Scalise said.

That sounds like a plan. 

If you want to know if your representative has signed the petition, you can find out here (the list was last updated in April 2019).

Photo by Gage Skidmore