Abortion survivors deserve our protection

Published 8:16 am Monday, April 8, 2019

In the wake of the Roe v. Wade decision, some estimates show over 61 million successful abortions have been performed in the U.S. since 1973. The fact there are elected officials in places like New York and Virginia — and the U.S. House — who are working to extend the timeline of abortion availability right up until the moment of birth sickens me to my core. In over 31 years of practice as an OB/GYN, I have delivered nearly 5,000 babies, put them in my hands and held them. I have given them to their parents and watch them grow up in my community. Many times, I even delivered their own children. One of the more gruesome realities of abortion is there are some babies that survive the procedure. These babies that are born alive deserve all the protections afforded any other living person. Having seen human life at every stage of development, it is heartbreaking to me that we, as a people, cannot agree on stopping this practice.
There are 24 states that lack protections for born-alive infants. For that reason, I am a proud cosponsor of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (Born-Alive Act), introduced by Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO) to criminalize this practice, which has been described by some supporters as more closely resembling infanticide. This legislation would require physicians perform the necessary medical care for children who survive an abortion and would make it a federal crime for those who do not provide that care. On April 2, I became the 26th House Republican to ask unanimous consent that this critical bill be brought to the House floor for a vote, but once again House Democrat leaders refuse to consider the bill.
I was also proud on Tuesday to stand with my Republican colleagues and anti-abortion advocates at a press conference to press Democrat leadership to bring this legislation up for a vote. Following this public demonstration, we went to the House floor and I was proud to be one of 193 members — including two Democrats — to sign a discharge petition seeking immediate consideration of the Born-Alive Act. We now need only 25 signatures to discharge the bill to the full House for consideration. A discharge petition is one of the tools members of the House can use to get critical legislation brought up for a vote if leadership is blocking its consideration, and this way every member will have to decide whether they stand against infanticide or refuse to sign the petition. If the discharge petition is successful, this bill will be brought to a passage vote without any amendments or procedural tactics.
In the Senate, there is a majority of senators who support this important legislation, but Senate Democrats have chosen to filibuster the legislation rather than allowing it to come to a vote. Those opposed to considering the bill include some of the most prominent members of their party, including Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
Every doctor takes the oath “primum non nocere” — “First, do no harm,” and this oath is not circumstantial. It is our duty as physicians to practice the same level of health care to all persons, whether the child is wanted or not. That’s why I feel so strongly that it should be a medical provider’s right to abide by their conscience when it comes to matters like abortion. No one should be forced to perform an abortion, which is why I am a proud original cosponsor of the Conscience Protection Act, introduced on April 1. This legislation will protect doctors, nurses and other medical professionals from being required to perform abortions if it goes against their beliefs.
To think there are people in America who feel an abortion survivor does not deserve the same protection as other human beings makes my heart hurt. I will continue fighting for our most vulnerable population because they cannot fight for themselves.

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