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House, pro-life leaders back discharge petition on Born-Alive bill

Discharge petition would bring Born-Alive bill to the floor for a vote if petition signed by a majority of representatives

WASHINGTON — Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Mo., spoke to the crowd of journalists and activists gathered before her: “I came to Congress to be a voice for the voiceless and … with the Born-Alive Act … today we will finally start the process of bringing this vote to the floor.”

At a news conference April 2 outside the House of Representatives, Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., Wagner and a handful of their Republican colleagues announced that they would be filing a discharge petition for the embattled Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, a move that will bring the bill to the floor of the House for a vote if the petition receives signatures from a simple majority of House members.

A discharge petition is a means of bringing a bill out of committee and to the floor for consideration without a report from the committee by “discharging” the committee from further consideration of a bill or resolution.

The legislation has stalled in the Senate, and the leadership in the Democrat-controlled House has prevented the bill from being brought to a vote multiple times. The Senate version was written by Ben Sasse, R-Neb., and the House version was written by Wagner.

Scalise related to the crowd gathered outside the House that his constituents are shocked that such a bill is even needed.

“When I say we need to bring this bill to the floor for a vote, the first thing people say is, ‘How is it legal in America to kill a baby after it has been born alive outside the womb?’ … It’s shocking. … It’s something no American should stand for,” the congressman remarked.

He continued by mentioning that this sort of legislation frequently creates bipartisan consensus: “When you talk to people from every walk of life — Republicans, Democrats … and yes, even most pro-choice Americans recognize that a baby born alive outside the womb should have full protection under law.”

The legislation, H.R. 962, requires that any child born alive following an abortion attempt be afforded “the same degree” of care that would apply “to any other child born alive at the same gestational age.” The bill does not dictate bona fide medical judgments nor require futile measures, but rather requires that babies born alive during abortions are treated in the same manner as those babies spontaneously born prematurely.

While existing federal legislation technically confers personhood on those delivered during abortions, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act would institute a higher standard of medical care for abortion survivors, care that many pro-life advocates say would turn the tables in favor of life for them.

After the news conference, House members planned to begin gathering the 218 signatures needed on the discharge petition.

For doctors not to provide care to babies who survive an abortion “is a lethal form of discrimination against the circumstances of the child’s birth,” Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kan., wrote in a statement released by the USCCB ahead of the news conference on the Hill.

“Our nation is better than infanticide,” he said. “Babies born alive during the process of abortion deserve the same care and medical assistance as any other newborn.”

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