A former Planned Parenthood employee is calling on congressional Democrats to hold a vote on legislation aimed at providing medical care to abortion survivors.
Kathi A. Aultman, a former medical director for Planned Parenthood, called on House Democrats to move forward with the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.
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"They think that this bill is just one more encroachment on abortion, and it's absolutely not," she said in a congressional hearing organized by House Republicans.
The bill requires health care practitioners to "exercise the same degree of care as reasonably provided to another child born alive at the same gestational age" and to immediately admit the child to a hospital. It also forbids the criminal prosecution of a mother of a child born alive for any potential violation of the bill and allows a woman who undergoes an attempted abortion to sue practitioners for civil damages.
Democratic leaders have sought to block the bill from coming to the House floor. Republicans are attempting to adopt discharge petition, which would guarantee an up-or-down vote. The petition has 201 signatures, 17 short of the 218 needed. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R., La.) commended Aultman, as well as other pro-life doctors and nurses who testified at the hearing.
"You're on the front lines of defending life, defending life at its most fragile stage as you see these things that are going on, babies being born alive while others that oppose this legislation are trying to say it doesn't happen," Scalise said. "It absolutely happens, and you confirmed that."
During the hearing, Rep. Chris Smith (R., N.J.), chairman of the House Pro-Life Caucus, criticized journalists' coverage of the bill, saying there has been a "cover-up [by] the media."
"They have a story here, of children. The human rights of children are being violated with death, and very little is done except in Gosnell's case and a few others but they are the outlier instead of the rule," he said.
Aultman said abortion supporters in politics and journalism do not want to confront the reality of the industry. She said opponents of the Born Alive Act conflate it with limits on abortion law when it focuses only on children outside of the womb.
"The media like the rest of us have been so indoctrinated over the years by a feminist agenda that promoted abortion at all costs, and they just do not want to look at this issue," Aultman said.
Rep. Jackie Walorski (R., Ind.) said Democrats have adopted a "radical anti-life agenda" in recent years. Abortion supporters have moved from the "safe, legal, and rare" rhetoric of the Clinton administration to blocking protective measures for infants.
"We're here to defend the sanctity of life, speak out against a radical anti-life agenda that would legalize infanticide," Walorski said. "It is time for Speaker Pelosi to stop blocking protections for born-alive babies."
Pro-life activists praised House Republicans for taking up the issue.
"We thank Whip Scalise, Rep. Wagner, and the Pro-life Caucus for leading the charge to protect babies who survive abortions in the face of extraordinary obstruction from Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats," Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement. "We urge Democrats from Republican-leaning districts to listen to their constituents, stand against infanticide, and sign the petition right away."
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins called the bill a "commonsense" measure to protect infants.
"Minority Whip Steve Scalise and the members involved in this hearing have gone to great lengths to hear testimony on why Congress must act to protect infants born alive after a failed abortion," Perkins said in a statement. "It reflects the sad state of our politics today that Speaker Nancy Pelosi is actively blocking even a vote on a commonsense law against infanticide."
Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life, called the lack of a vote on the bill "unconscionable."
"It is about basic human dignity and compassion, which should be extended especially to the most vulnerable among us. It is unconscionable that Democrats have not allowed a vote on this bill requiring the most basic care," she said.
Senate Democrats, including every 2020 presidential contender, blocked similar legislation in the Senate. It needed 60 votes to pass but only garnered 53.