What Is Infanticide, & Why Is The GOP Using It To Talk About Abortion?

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Earlier this week, Republican lawmakers attempted to pass the "Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act," a bill they said was designed to combat infanticide and protect newborn babies following failed abortion attempts, Vox reported. However, Democrats defeated the bill via filibuster, arguing that the legislation was designed to further restrict abortion access. According to Politico, Republicans are distorting what infanticide is to talk about abortions later in pregnancy, and are doubling down on this argument ahead of the 2020 elections.

For weeks, President Trump and other Republicans have condemned supposed "late-term abortions" — a term that many pro-choice advocates and doctors have described as misleading because it has no clinical legitimacy. The GOP's latest strategy appears to be equivocating abortions later in pregnancy with infanticide, with Republican lawmakers alleging that doctors in some states are allowing babies to die following failed abortion attempts.

Democrats have pointed out that current legislation already protects infants, Politico reported, and that abortions are only performed later in pregnancy under certain rare circumstances: in the case of severe fetal abnormalities, or if the pregnant person's mental or physical health is in danger. Nonetheless, the GOP has rallied around the infanticide narrative as a 2020 strategy, with Trump alleging this week that Democrats support "executing babies AFTER birth."

According to Politico, Republicans who support the "Born Alive" legislation are aware that it is unlikely to pass through Congress — especially through the Democratic-led House — but they intend to push as many votes for it as possible in order to cast doubt on Democrats' credentials. Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise suggested that Democrats have taken a "barbaric position" on the issue, and argued that the majority of Americans don't agree with this "radical far-left shift."

Vice President Mike Pence, meanwhile, argued during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference that Democrats are supporting "infanticide and a culture of death" by advocating for abortion access later in pregnancy, per Rolling Stone. And Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, the chief sponsor of the "Born Alive" act, accused Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice organizations of failing "to draw a line between abortion and infanticide," the Associated Press reported.

In response to Republicans' "Born Alive" legislation — which would reportedly make it a felony for doctors to harm or neglect infants that "survive" an abortion attempt — Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono urged her fellow Democrats to "fight back.”

“This is red meat to their base,” Hirono said, per Politico. “They just continue to put out these kinds of factually wrong anti-choice amendments and bills."

Despite Republican attempts to fracture the Democratic Party over this issue, Politico reported that Democrats have been relatively united in their support for abortion access. Only three Democratic senators — Bob Casey from Pennsylvania, Joe Manchin from West Virginia, and Doug Jones from Alabama — joined Republicans to vote in favor of a procedural motion on the "Born Alive" act on Monday, per Vox. And as Planned Parenthood President Leana Wen pointed out to Politico, voters across the country "overwhelmingly rejected attacks on health care and reproductive rights" last year, citing historic victories by women and people of color in the 2018 midterm elections.