The public supports policies like the Born-Alive bill. Why was the vote split on party lines?
With a Democrat-controlled Senate, it seems unlikely that this bill will make it through Congress
The House passed the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act in a 220-210-01 vote on Wednesday. The bill requires medical care for infants who survive abortion attempts.
With a Democrat-controlled Senate, it seems unlikely this bill will make it through Congress. Republicans have raised this bill nationally before, and while it hasn’t gotten through in the past, the concept has had more success at the state level.
A majority of the public supports measures like this bill, but the vote was split down party lines in the House. Here’s an explainer.
What is the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act?
This bill was introduced in the House of Representatives on Jan. 9.
According to the summary of the bill provided by Congress, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act “establishes requirements for the degree of care a health care practitioner must provide in the case of a child born alive following an abortion or attempted abortion.”
The bill would require health care practitioners to give the child who survived an attempted abortion the same medical care that a child would receive if they were born alive at the same gestational age not in connection with an abortion. Additionally, health care practitioners would be required to immediately transport the child to a hospital.
Failing to provide this care could result in a fine or up to 5 years in prison or both, according to the bill. If an individual killed or attempted to kill a child born alive, this bill would also give grounds for that individual being subject to potential prosecution for murder.
But the bill exempts mothers from prosecution.
The bill summary states, “The bill bars the criminal prosecution of a mother of a child born alive under this bill and allows her to bring a civil action against a health care practitioner or other employee for violations.”
Other similar bills have been attempted on a state level. Take Wisconsin for example. Opposition to the bill is generally rooted in the belief that the bill would restrict abortion rights and make it more difficult for physicians to perform abortions. When Wisconsin attempted to pass a similar measure in 2021, Planned Parenthood and other groups opposed the bill for that reason, according to WPR.
However, Sen. Roger Roth, R-Wis., one of the sponsors of the bill in Wisconsin, said that the bill “does not regulate abortion in any sense” and said, “Regardless of the circumstances a baby comes into this world, he or she must have the same rights and protections that you and I have.”
What is public opinion on Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act?
Polling data has shown that members of the public generally support measures like the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. This broad support is also bipartisan.
A 2019 national poll by McLaughlin & Associations asked, “Congress is considering legislation that would ensure that a baby who survives a failed abortion would be given the same medical treatment as any other baby born prematurely at the same age. Do you support or oppose this legislation?”
Eighty-six percent of Republicans, 70% of Democrats and 75% of independents said they support this legislation. Men were slightly more likely to support it than women, 79% and 75%, respectively.
A 2019 Rasmussen poll reported by KSL NewsRadio said that 70% of U.S. adults believe that doctors should be required to provide medical care for babies who survive failed abortions.
General polling on abortion access differs significantly from public opinion on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. The AP-NORC poll showed in 2022 that 61% of U.S. adults support abortion nationally.
The public generally favors access to abortion with some restrictions. A plurality of Americans believe that abortion should only be legal in the first trimester, according to data from the American Family Survey.
Who supported Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act and why?
Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, was the only Democrat who supported the bill, according to The Hill. House Republicans overwhelmingly supported the bill.
According to PBS, Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan said that his support of the bill was rooted in his belief that government should protect the right to life. “You don’t have freedom, true liberty, unless government protects your most fundamental right, your right to live,” he said.
Dr. Christina Francis, the CEO-elect of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, applauded the passing of the bill. National Review reported that Francis said, “We always care for two patients in the delivery room: mother and baby. It is our duty as physicians to provide both of them optimal care. We cannot discriminate against care based on the circumstances or location of a child’s birth. When a baby is born — that baby deserves age-appropriate medical attention and care, without exception.”
Who didn’t support Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act and why?
Democrats, with the exclusion of Cuellar, did not support the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.
According to CNN, Democrats who were opposed to the bill said that it’s already considered homicide to intentionally kill an infant who is born alive. They have also argued “that such measures restrict abortion access by threatening health care providers.”
NARAL Pro-Choice America issued a statement that said, “Republicans are doubling down on their anti-choice extremist values.”