LA Congressman Steve Scalise Promotes Born-Alive Abortion Bill. Is It Necessary?



Several people have been working on a discharge petition for the Born-Alive bill currently in the U.S. House of Representatives. Originally sponsored in the Senate by Senator Ben Sasse, (R- Nebraska,) the attempt to bring the bill before the House is spearheaded by Republicans including House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, Florida Representative Kat Cammack, and Montana Representative Ann Wagner.

A discharge petition is basically a way of bringing a bill out of committee where it’s been stalled and bringing it to the House floor. This is rarely done because it requires an absolute majority of the House to do it. And if there is already a majority in the House in favor of the bill, it’s rare that something popular would be stalled in committee in the first place.

The Republicans reintroduced the Born Alive bill in January with Steve Scalise saying in a press release “Defending innocent life at every stage is more important than ever because — with Democrats in charge — our ability to protect innocent life has never been more in jeopardy. Speaker Pelosi worked tirelessly to prevent us from bringing the Born-Alive Act up for a vote in the House last Congress and her liberal lieutenants are already working overtime with the Biden Administration to roll back protections for the unborn so they can enact the far-left’s most radical pro-abortion policies. We cannot allow this to happen.”

The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, H.R.619, is a bill that, on the surface, seems to protect children “born” after an attempted abortion, providing them with the same rights and privileges afforded an infant. However, there are many questions about the bill, some centering on its inflammatory premise and some focusing on whether the bill is necessary at all.

There is already a similar law on the books: the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002. Many of the proscriptions of the new bill are already contained in the current law. However, one of the main differences between that bill and the current Born-Alive Abortions Survivors Act is that the previous law did not criminalize doctors for their actions. According to the text of the 2002 law:

“As used in this section, the term `born alive’, with respect to a member of the species homo sapiens, means the complete expulsion or extraction from his or her mother of that member, at any stage of development, who after such expulsion or extraction breathes or has a beating heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles, regardless of whether the umbilical cord has been cut, and regardless of whether the expulsion or extraction occurs as a result of natural or induced labor, cesarean section, or induced abortion.”

The current bill, which intends to criminalize doctors and leave room for civil lawsuits, refers to abortion as, “to intentionally kill the unborn child of a woman known to be pregnant.”

The bill also states that a physician who violates the law “shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both.”

So, the bill appears to attempt to legislate what doctors can and cannot do with their patients. The language of the bill is certainly deliberate and, to some, inflammatory, referring to “unborn child” rather than a fetus, for example.

Further, the bill states that, “Any infant born alive after an abortion or within a hospital, clinic, or other facility has the same claim to the protection of the law that would arise for any newborn, or for any person who comes to a hospital, clinic, or other facility for screening and treatment or otherwise becomes a patient within its care.”

So, on the surface, protecting babies “born alive” from botched abortions may seem like a reasonable cause. But is it really? Big Easy Magazine spoke with both the New Orleans office of Louisiana Right to Life, and Lift Louisiana, a women’s reproductive rights organization in order to clear up some of the questions.

Co-founder and Executive director Michelle Erenberg describes Lift Louisiana, founded in 2016, as an organization, “with a mission to educate, advocate, and litigate around policies that will improve the health and well-being of women and families in Louisiana.”

She says of the bill, “This is a bill we’re opposed to. Bills like these really perpetuate myths and lies about women who have abortions and the doctors who care for them. And the whole premise behind it is based on a lot of false claims about how abortion works, and perpetuates misinformation about what are extremely rare circumstances in abortions later in pregnancy, or pregnancy complications later in pregnancy.”

However, Louisiana Right to Life unsurprisingly disagrees. Louisiana Right to Life has been around since 1970. Alexandra Seghers, their Education Director, says, “We hear too many stories about babies who are being left to die after an abortion because the abortion was botched. And in fact, there’s the nurses in the past testified rescuing babies in that situation. So, we thank him (Steve Scalise) for this critical lifesaving legislation.”

Erenberg says that the bill isn’t needed: “It really isn’t. For one thing, in 2002, Congress passed a bill similar to this, although it didn’t have the criminal penalties. So that seems to be one of the biggest differences with this bill, that it’s adding criminal penalties.”

Erenbger continues, “But it’s unnecessary, too, because doctors already have an obligation to provide appropriate medical care. And the suggestion otherwise is really quite offensive to people in the medical community.”

Seghers disagrees and believes it is absolutely necessary. “Yes, it is necessary because as I’ve said, it’s something that happens and we just don’t sufficiently protect people who have been born alive from an abortion. You know, there’s just a lot of social confusion around that state of crisis when they’re wanting to follow through with an abortion and it doesn’t occur properly.”

So, are there babies being aborted that are born alive? According to, if they are, the person performing abortions is going to jail. Lori Robertson of states, “In 2013, for instance, Kermit Gosnell was found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of three babies born alive in his Philadelphia abortion clinic and one count of involuntary manslaughter for the death of a woman whom he treated.”

To be clear, infanticide is already illegal in all fifty states, and Erenberg makes it clear that there are already laws on the books to protect this situation: “One of the questions that you asked is aren’t there already existing laws that would apply here and that’s absolutely true. There are existing laws that could be applied if there was a circumstance of someone withholding life-saving medical care for a fetus that was birthed alive.”

In the rare instances a fetus is born alive, according to Robertson at, “In Minnesota, there were 10,177 abortions in the state in 2017 and three resulted in an infant born alive. None survived, according to the report from the state Department of Health. One infant was given “comfort care”; another was given no specific care; and the third had a low APGAR score, a measure of a newborn’s well-being.”

And herein occurs the question of viability. According to Denise Grady of the New York Times, “Dr. Grossman (a gynecologist) said there were painful situations in which the fetus might be at the edge of viability and labor must be induced to save the mother’s life. For instance, a condition called pre-eclampsia, involving high blood pressure and other problems, can kill both mother and fetus, and in most cases the only treatment is to deliver the baby. If it seems unlikely that the baby will survive, the family may choose to provide just comfort care — wrapping and cuddling the baby — and allow the child to die naturally without extreme attempts at resuscitation.”

Grady continues, “The bill would force doctors to resuscitate such an infant, even if the parents did not want those measures, said Dr. Jennifer Conti, an obstetrician gynecologist who is a fellow of Physicians for Reproductive Health, an advocacy group. Doctors who violated the law would be subject to criminal penalties, as would anyone who saw the violation and failed to report it, she said.”

But Erenberg doesn’t believe this is about protecting the born or the unborn. She sees it as purely political.  “The real goal with this is to inflame the emotions of people, to provide people with false and misleading information about abortion care, with the ultimate goal of pushing safe and legal abortion out of reach for people.”

Erenberg says of Steve Scalise, “I think that he’s got his own conservative agenda that he’s pushing. The issue of abortion is important for them. And in galvanizing their voters and their base.” She adds, “I think that he understands that this is an issue that they can use to drum up support among their base to confuse people, and to perpetuate myths about abortion, and to push their anti-abortion agenda.”

Erenberg says, “It’s really important for people to understand that politicians are not medical experts, and this is not an area where politicians should be interfering, throughout a person’s pregnancy. A patient should be able to make their own decisions, with the advice of the healthcare professional that’s treating them.”

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