Scalise, Wagner plan to introduce discharge petition for abortion bill

Stefani Reynolds

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) are looking to force a floor vote on legislation aimed at requiring medical care protections for infants born during an abortion.

The GOP lawmakers announced Wednesday that they plan to introduce a discharge petition, which could allow them to circumvent Democratic leadership and bring the legislation to the floor.

{mosads}The legislative tool, which requires signatures from at least 218 House lawmakers, could face an uphill battle garnering sufficient Democratic support. Republicans hold 199 seats in the House.

Scalise later said he thinks a number of Democrats will sign the discharge petition, noting that six Democrats voted in favor of the bill in the previous Congress. 

The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act would require medical practitioners to provide the same level of care to infants who survive abortions as those who didn’t undergo the procedure. Hospital employees would be mandated to report violations to law enforcement officials, and violators would face fines or up to five years in prison.

The push to force a vote comes in the wake of remarks by Gov. Ralph Northam (D) defending similar in Virginia legislation that would make it easier to obtain a third-trimester abortion.

“In this particular example, if a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen: the infant would be delivered; the infant would be kept comfortable; the infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired. And then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother,” Northam said on a local radio show last week.

His comments sparked outrage from anti-abortion groups and Republicans, who argued failing to provide care to a newborn is infanticide.

“We must immediately extend legal protections to these vulnerable newborns and prosecute any doctor who would leave them to die,” Scalise said in a statement. “I introduced this resolution to begin the process of forcing a vote on Congresswoman Wagner’s important piece of legislation, especially after horrific actions taken in New York and Virginia to permit infanticide. The silence from Congressional Democrats is deafening and shameful.”

Wagner argued the vote is necessary to put members on the record on where they stand on the issue.

“I have been horrified to watch radical Democratic legislators argue that babies who survive abortions should not be given the same level of medical care that all other newborn babies receive,” she said in a statement.

“To my colleagues, this is the simplest vote you will ever take: either you support babies being killed after they are born or you don’t. It is time to go on the record and make clear if you think babies born alive deserve medical care, or if you think they should be left to die.”

Updated at 12:03 p.m.
Tags Ann Wagner Steve Scalise
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