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US House to vote on bill seeking to protect babies who survive botched abortions

(Reuters/Aaron P. Bernstein)House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks at a news conference at the Republican National Committee Building in Washington, D.C., U.S. May 17, 2017.

The U.S. House is expected to vote next week on a bill that aims to strengthen existing law that requires health providers to care for infants who survive abortion procedures.

According to Townhall, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) announced on Tuesday that the vote on the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act will take place on the same week of the annual March for Life.

"Next week—the week of the annual March for Life when tens of thousands of Americans come to Washington to give voice to the voiceless unborn—the House will vote on the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Act," McCarthy said in a statement.

Under the legislation, health care practitioners who are present when a baby survives an abortion would be required to "exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as a reasonably diligent and conscientious health care practitioner would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age," and ensure that the infant is immediately transported to a hospital.

McCarthy clarified that mothers will not be prosecuted under the law, but doctors who do not provide medical care for babies who survive abortions will be held criminally accountable.

Doctors who are found to be in violation of the legislation could face up to five years in prison, according to The Hill.

Republicans and pro-life advocates argued that current federal law does not adequately protect infants who survive abortions, but critics contended that such incidences are rare and the bill is duplicative of current law.

The Born Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002 requires medical workers to provide emergency care for babies who survive abortion, but it does not include criminal penalties.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced the bill on Dec. 21 with the support of 60 of her colleagues in the House. The House passed a similar measure in 2015, but it failed to advance in the Senate.

Last year, the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, which Blackburn chaired, released a report indicating that abortion providers could be using techniques that resulted in babies born alive during abortion.

Documents obtained in the investigation have suggested that many researchers want tissue from late-gestation infants "untainted by feticidal agents."

The panel concluded in the report that "abortion providers may modify abortion procedures, in apparent violation of the law, to increase the odds of getting an intact infant cadaver," which they say increases the likelihood that babies are born alive during late second-trimester abortions.

The Hill noted that the House has scheduled the vote on Blackburn's bill for Jan. 19, coinciding the March for Life, an annual rally against abortion that draws tens of thousands to Washington D.C. each year.

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