House Republicans are highlighting the abortion issue as they roll out their legislative agenda in the new Congress — a move that comes after the Supreme Court’s highly consequential decision last summer to overturn the landmark 1973 decision Roe v. Wade.
The Republican-led House on Wednesday voted to pass a bill that would require health care professionals to try to preserve a child’s life in the rare event that a baby is born alive during or after an attempted abortion. The bill is not expected to pass the Democrat-controlled Senate, but passage in the House serves as a message opportunity to the new Republican majority. The vote was 220 to 210.
Under the bill, healthcare workers who fail to meet care requirements could face fines or up to five years in prison. The bill would impose no penalties on the mother and would grant the mother protection from any type of prosecution.
Opponents argued that such measures restrict access to abortion through threats to health professionals. It is already considered homicide in the US to intentionally kill a live-born child.
The new Republican majority’s decision to keep the vote comes after Democrats worked to make abortion a top issue during the midterm elections following Roe’s reversal. Republicans managed to regain control of the House in the midterm elections, but a long-awaited “red wave” failed to materialize, leading to questions – and accusations within the GOP – about exactly what factors played a key role in the outcome.
The measure the House voted on — called the “Birth Abortion Survivors Protection Act” — was introduced on Monday by Republican Representative Ann Wagner of Missouri.
NARAL Pro-Choice America released a statement on Tuesday criticizing the bill, along with several others.
“These bills make it clear: House Republicans are clearly rejecting the will of the overwhelming majority of Americans who voted in favor of legal abortion in November,” said the organization’s president, Mini Timmaraju. “In the meantime, our Democratic reproductive freedom advocates in the House are ready and willing to fight to restore and expand access to abortion — and we thank them for that.”
The House also voted on Wednesday to pass a separate measure condemning “recent attacks on pro-life facilities, groups and churches.”
Republicans only control a narrow majority in the House — and divisions between moderates and conservatives were on full display in the chaotic one-day effort to elect Kevin McCarthy as president. Now, the GOP’s new majority faces the challenge of bringing bills to the floor that will unite, not divide, their conference — and Republicans are trying to thread the needle.
Representative Nancy Mace, a South Carolina Republican who has been vehemently critical of her party’s abortion messages, urged the Republican leadership to balance “women’s rights” with the “right to life,” warning on Wednesday that there “political dangers” for Republicans if they don’t “find a middle ground on the issue”.
“I’ve been talking a lot, both privately with my leadership and publicly,” Mace said. “This is an issue we missed. We buried our heads in the sand after Roe v. Wade and we lost seats because of this issue.
Mace voted in favor of both abortion-related bills that were on the House floor Wednesday, but he expressed concern about a possible federal ban on abortion if it includes language that requires women to report their rapes or imprison doctors who provide the procedure.
Asked how she thinks the GOP can better address women’s rights, Mace – a rape victim who has spoken out – said she is working on legislation related to rape kits, as well as legislation that expands access to rape kits. birth.
“We’ll see how seriously these things are taken,” she added.
This story and title have been updated with further developments.
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