The bill must garner the signatures of a simple majority of the House of Representatives. Scalise acknowledged that this will be an “uphill battle” in the Democrat-controlled House.
“But we don’t come here to do the easy things,” he said. “We come here because it’s hard.”
The bill’s lead sponsor, Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO), said that her legislation was “a measure that has passed with bipartisan support in the past.”
Presently, 26 states have some sort of legal protection for babies who survive abortions. Wagner said that it was important that this be extended throughout the entire country.
“We need to make sure that we make this a criminal act,” said Wagner. “That we give mothers civil remedies, and that most of all, we give life-saving care to babies that are born alive.”
Wagner said she was grateful for the “brave” Democrats willing to sign the discharge petition. Right now, three Democrats have agreed to co-sponsor the bill.
“The Constitution provides for life, liberty, and equal protection under the law,” said Wagner. “Our founding fathers didn’t put an age limit on that.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) expressed shock that 25 requests for the bill to be considered had gone unanswered. He said that it should not come down to a discharge petition to protect the life of a newborn baby, and rejected the idea that this is a partisan issue.
“This isn’t about Republican or Democrat, it’s about life,” said McCarthy.
The members of Congress were joined at the press conference by three young women who were themselves survivors of attempted abortions.
Melissa Ohden was born at about 31 weeks of gestation, following her teenage mother’s attempted saline abortion. She described herself as “one of the children who deserve to be protected by the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.”
Ohden said that after her birth, she was “laid aside” at the hospital, until a nurse saved her life and provided her with care.
“My life never should have been left in the hands of the abortionist that day,” said Ohden. “My life never should have been to the luck of the draw of who was working that day at the hospital.”
As part of the Abortion Survivors Network, Ohden said she has been in contact with 281 other abortion survivors. She urged lawmakers to give her and her fellow survivors “the basic dignity we deserve. Give us healthcare. It is a right.”
“We fought for our lives in the womb. Do not make us fight for our lives once again when we’re born alive.”