'Born-alive' bill passed by House Republicans would require care for infants born alive after failed abortion

House Republicans passed two anti-abortion bills this week.

January 12, 2023, 4:54 PM

The House of Representatives passed the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act on Wednesday, with votes at 220-210. If approved, the legislation would require health practitioners to care for an infant that is born alive after a failed abortion, according to the law.

PHOTO: FILE - An unoccupied recovery area, left, and an abortion procedure room are seen at a Planned Parenthood Arizona facility in Tempe, Ariz., June 30, 2022.
An unoccupied recovery area, left, and an abortion procedure room are seen at a Planned Parenthood Arizona facility in Tempe, Ariz., June 30, 2022.
Matt York/AP, FILE

In order to become law, the bill would need to be approved in the Senate and signed by President Joe Biden, which is unlikely. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Wednesday that the bill, along with a second anti-abortion bill, are "doomed in the Senate" and "extreme."

"American women deserve to have their right to healthcare protected, not undermined," Schumer said in a statement.

The vast majority of abortions are performed before the point in pregnancy when a fetus would theoretically survive, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2020, only 0.9% of abortion procedures occurred after 21 weeks gestation, the CDC reports.

Failed abortions where infants are born alive are extremely rare. In Minnesota, which tracks those cases, there were over 10,000 abortions performed in 2017 and only three cases where an infant was born alive, according to a department of health report. None subsequently survived.

The second abortion bill passed in the House would condemn violence against facilities, groups and churches opposed to abortions. 

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, ending federal protections for abortion rights. Since then, at least 14 states have ceased nearly all abortion services.

PHOTO: FILE - Protesters fill the Montana state Capitol rotunda in Helena, Mont., on Feb. 11, 2015, during a rally to show support in an attempt to change the Montana Constitution to define life as beginning at conception.
Protesters fill the Montana state Capitol rotunda in Helena, Mont., on Feb. 11, 2015, during a rally to show support in an attempt to change the Montana Constitution to define life as beginning at conception.
Thom Bridge/AP, FILE

Under the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, health care providers would be required to exercise the same degree of care as would reasonably be provided to a child born alive at the same gestational age and ensure that the child is admitted to a hospital, according to the law. An infant born alive after a failed abortion would be entitled to the protections of that proposed law.

The bill would also impose criminal penalties on health care providers who fail to provide the care. Any health care practitioner or employee with knowledge of a failure to comply with the law would also be required to report it to law enforcement, according to the law.

Both those who do not provide care or fail to report will be subject to a fine, up to five years in prison or both, according to the law.

PHOTO: Liz Padilla speaks about how she once was happily pregnant, only to find out that the pregnancy was not viable and then chose to terminate the pregnancy during a hearing, Jan. 5, 2023 at the Minnesota State Office Building in St. Paul, Minn.
Liz Padilla speaks about how she once was happily pregnant, only to find out that the pregnancy was not viable and then chose to terminate the pregnancy during a hearing of the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee, Jan. 5, 2023 at the Minnesota State Office Building in St. Paul, Minn.
David Joles/AP

The law also states that an individual who kills or attempts to kill an infant who is born alive would be subject to prosecution for murder. However, someone who kills an infant would already be subject to prosecution for murder under existing laws.

Mothers seeking abortion care would not be subject to criminal prosecution, according to the law.

Yet, mothers could bring civil action against health care practitioners or other health care system employees for violating this law. They may seek monetary damages for psychological and physical injuries; statutory damages equal to triple the cost of the abortion; and punitive damages, according to the law.

The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act was introduced by Republican Rep. Ann Wagner of Missouri.

Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas was the only Democrat voting with Republicans in support of the bill.

In a statement, Planned Parenthood criticized the bill saying doctors are already required to provide appropriate medical care by law saying that the bill makes up a problem that doesn't exist.

PHOTO: FILE - In this file photo taken, June 24, 2022, a person holds a metal coat hanger, a symbol of the reproductive rights movement, with the words "Keep Abortions Safe" outside Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In this file photo taken, June 24, 2022, a person holds a metal coat hanger, a symbol of the reproductive rights movement, with the words "Keep Abortions Safe" outside Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ronda Churchill/AFP via Getty Images, FILE

"This bill is deliberately misleading and offensive to pregnant people and the doctors and nurses who provide their care. It is yet another attempt by anti-abortion politicians to spread misinformation as a means to their warped political end: to ban safe and legal abortion," Jacqueline Ayers, the senior vice president of policy, organizing, and campaigns at Planned Parenthood Federation of America said in a statement about the bill.

Anti-abortion group National Right to Life Committee praised lawmakers for passing the bill and accused Democrats of attempting to "hijack this common-sense vote to push their agenda of abortion without limit until birth."

"In the wake of the Dobbs v. Jackson decision, several states are moving not only to fully legalize abortion up to the moment of birth but also going to great lengths to insulate abortion providers from even the most basic scrutiny. Against this backdrop, there is renewed urgency to pass The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act," Right to Life said in a statement.

ABC News' Nicole Wetsman contributed to this report.

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