House Republicans move to fast-track anti-abortion bill on heels of Virginia debate

Congressional Republicans said Wednesday they plan to force a vote in the House on a bill that would penalize doctors and medical professionals who do not provide medical care to infants who survive abortions.

The effort comes on the heels of controversial comments made by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam over a late-term abortion bill in the state. Senate Republicans attempted this week to bring the bill directly to the floor but it was blocked by Democrats.

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The bill is known as the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which penalizes the intentional killing of a born-alive child. Missouri GOP Rep. Ann Wagner reintroduced the legislation Wednesday, and House Republican Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana said in a statement he plans to file a discharge petition in 30 days that would force a vote on if signed by a majority of members of the House.

Scalise said the bill is especially important after the “horrific actions taken in New York and Virginia to permit infanticide.”

“Every Member of Congress, regardless of party, needs to go on record against infanticide, and we must immediately take action to stop it,” Scalise said. “The American people deserve to know where their representatives stand on this critical issue.”

Conservatives have been galvanized in recent days after a Virginia Democratic delegate sponsoring a new bill loosening abortion restrictions, Kathy Tran, was asked at a hearing if a woman about to give birth and dilating could still request an abortion.

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“My bill would allow that, yes,” she said. She later walked back the statement.

But Virginia’s Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, a former pediatric neurologist, was asked about Tran's comments and said that third-trimester abortions are done with “the consent of obviously the mother, with consent of the physician, multiple physicians by the way, and it’s done in cases where there may be severe deformities or there may be a fetus that’s not viable.”

“So in this particular example if a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen, the infant would be delivered,” he said. “The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”

Republicans have accused Northam of saying a child could be killed after being born. During Tuesday’s State of the Union, President Trump accused Northam of saying “he would execute a baby after birth.” Northam, who is embroiled in a separate scandal over racist photos on his medical school yearbook page, has pushed back against that accusation.

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Amid the outrage, Republicans on Capitol Hill are pushing for Democrats to go on record on the issue.

“I have been horrified to watch radical Democratic legislators argue that babies who survive abortions should not be given the same level of medical care that all other newborn babies receive,” Wagner said in a statement, adding, “It is time to go on the record and make clear if you think babies born alive deserve medical care, or if you think they should be left to die.”

In the Senate, Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., this week tried to use Congress’ Rule 14 process to bypass the normal committee consideration of a piece of legislation and bring the bill directly to the Senate floor.

However, Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray objected to Sasse's bill, saying the legislation was unnecessary and amounted to a political stunt.

"We have laws against infanticide in this country," Murray said. "This is a gross misinterpretation of the actual language of the bill that is being asked to be considered and therefore, I object."

Sasse, speaking on the Senate floor, told his colleagues that "frankly, this shouldn't be hard" to pass.

"In this country, all of us are created equal," Sasse said. "Because if that equality means anything, surely it means that infanticide is wrong."

The effort in Virginia follows New York passing a bill loosening restrictions on abortion, as New Mexico, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington also pass new laws expanding abortion access or move to strip old laws from the books that limit abortions.

Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly and Gregg Re contributed to this report.