Democrat Rep. Mary Peltola of Alaska voted with Democrats on Wednesday on a bill that would protect the lives of infants who are born alive during or after an abortion.
The bill passed the Republican-majority House on a vote of 220 to 210 and now goes to the Democrat-controlled Senate, where it is expected to die.
The bill requires health providers to treat a surviving infant of an abortion as a patient whose life is worth attempting to save, just as any other child’s life. A doctor would be required to exercise the same degree of care as a “reasonably diligent and conscientious health care practitioner would render to any other child born alive,” the bill states. The instances of a baby surviving abortion are rare, but not unheard of. The Lozier Institute says that about 1% of all U.S. abortions are carried out at or after 21 weeks of gestation, which is approximately 10,000 a year.
Penalties for violating the proposed law include a fine and up to five years in prison or both.
A person who intentionally kills or attempts to kill a baby born alive after an abortion would be subject to charges of murder. But the bill bars criminal prosecution of the mother of the child born alive.
The bill places no further restrictions on abortions, which is a matter that is left up to the states since Roe v. Wade was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court last year.
Peltola, an ardent abortion supporter who ran for office on the topic of preserving abortion rights, voted against the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. One Democrat, Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas, voted in favor of the bill and another Democrat, Rep. Vicente Gonzalez of Texas, voted “present.”
Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took to Twitter to criticize the bill: “Today, instead of joining Democrats to condemn all political violence, @HouseGOP chose to push their extreme anti-choice agenda. Democrats believe everyone deserves the freedom to access reproductive health services – without fear of violence, intimidation or harassment.”