Rep. Ben McAdams was one of three House Democrats who joined a GOP-led effort to force a vote on an anti-abortion bill.
McAdams joined a discharge petition put forward by House Minority Whip Steve Scalise to bring the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act” to the floor for a vote if it gets 218 signatures. As of Tuesday evening, the petition had 191 signatories.
The legislation mandates requirements for infants who are born alive after failed abortions and could send doctors to prison if they fail to comply. The proposal failed in the Senate in February.
In an email statement, McAdams said he signed the petition to have an “important debate” on the bill.
“I believe in the sanctity of life and that abortion is too common in America. The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act requires a health care practitioner to take specific steps to care for an infant who survives an abortion or an attempted abortion. I support the discharge petition to have the important debate on this legislation,” said McAdams.
Politico reports the GOP plans to use the legislation as a wedge issue against Democrats in the 2020 elections.
The GOP plans to use the petition as a cudgel against Democrats, particularly moderate freshmen in states like Virginia and New York that have passed laws to make it easier to get a third-trimester abortion in certain cases. Republicans say their goal is to expose where every Democrat stands on the issue.
Abortions very late in pregnancy are rare and often performed due to an underlying medical complication of the pregnant woman or fetus. And under Roe v. Wade, states regulate and limit abortions post-viability. Abortion rights activists argue the GOP legislation is unnecessary, and believe the measure is nothing more than an effort to chip away at abortion rights.
Democrats say the move will backfire.
“Oh my god. They just will not quit,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) when asked about the GOP's discharge petition. “I think politically, it’s a really bad move for them, and substantively, it’s a disaster.”
The GOP, however, sees an issue that revs up their base while dividing Democrats. Republicans have seized on controversial remarks made earlier this year by embattled Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, who was defending a bill in his state that makes it easier to get a third-trimester abortion when the health of the mother is at risk.