Republicans in Congress keep trying to throw innocent doctors in jail


It's both pointless and dangerous.

Republicans in Congress are trying yet again to push an unnecessary, dangerous bill that threatens doctors with jail time for no good reason.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) told reporters Monday that next week he plans to use a rare parliamentary procedure to force the Democratic-controlled House to vote on an abortion restriction that doesn't have enough votes to pass Congress — but that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy vows the GOP will push "again, and again, and again," just to try to make women's health supporters look bad.

The GOP-led Senate tried and failed to pass the same bill in February, and pushed it for the same cynical reasons as House Republicans.

"For all the Democrats who ran saying they were pro-life, this is going to be the true test," Scalise said — failing to mention that there are only a handful of Democrats in Congress left who both personally oppose abortion and are willing to vote to restrict it.

Republicans are trying to claim that the bill, which has been repeatedly introduced and shot down in Congress over the years, is a commonsense measure to protect infants.

In reality, however, it's a deeply cynical, unnecessary law that would expose innocent doctors to criminal charges — and up to five years in prison — even if they are exercising their best medical judgment and working in the best interests of their patients.

The bill, called the "Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act," promotes an ugly right-wing myth that demonizes doctors by falsely claiming that infants are frequently "born alive" and then murdered after botched abortions. It threatens doctors with up to five years in jail if they fail to take this theoretical infant to a hospital — even if it is not viable and has no chance of surviving.

It's already illegal to kill or deny appropriate medical care to a newborn; that's called infanticide.

But Scalise's bill isn't just redundant; it's also dangerous. It would impose unclear and uncertain regulations that could force doctors to act against their best medical judgment.

It could also force women in heartbreaking situations, like women who need an abortion very late in pregnancy due to a deadly fetal anomaly, to endure even more trauma for no reason.

"If you're a medical provider, this bill would supersede your years of medical training and your oath to deliver the best possible medical treatment to your patients," Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) said when the Senate debated the same bill. "It would apply a one-size-fits-all set of requirements that do not reflect the reality that every pregnancy is different. And it would subject you to criminal penalties if you choose to let medical standards, not politics, drive the care you offer your patient."

Republicans have been dangerously escalating their anti-abortion rhetoric for years. It's gotten so absurd that GOP leaders, all the way up to Trump and Mike Pence, argue with a straight face that Democrats actually endorse infanticide.

It's the same dangerous lie that inspired Scalise's bill, and it's also the kind of inflammatory rhetoric that inspires anti-abortion extremists to murder doctors and patients.

And it's now the GOP party line.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.