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'Life or death information': GOP senators' bill would require states to report numbers of children born alive during abortions

Even though debate over infanticide and botched abortion raged in the news for months, we still simply don't know how many of these cases occur in the United States every year.

Figuring out the actual abortion rate in the United States is a challenge, and that's because the information is only reported by states on a voluntary basis. Legislation put forward by GOP Sens. Tom Cotton, Ark., and Joni Ernst, Iowa, seeks to change that, according to a press release sent out on Thursday.

The bill — titled "Ensuring Accurate and Complete Abortion Data Reporting Act" — would require that states hand-collect and report information on abortions in order to continue getting certain federal Medicaid family planning funds. It would also mandate that the information include the numbers of procedures in which babies are born alive.

Data reported by Fox News in August shows dozens of children were born alive after botched abortions across three different states since 2016. Minnesota reported 11 since 2016. Arizona reported 10 such cases in 2017, and Florida reported 19 the same year.

That data, however, only offers a small glimpse at the issue because of the patchwork of state-level abortion reporting. The CDC pointed this problem out in a 2018 abortion report: “Because the collection and reporting of abortion data are not federally mandated, many reporting areas have developed their own data collection forms, and therefore do not collect or provide all the information or level of detail included in this report.”

“Pro-abortion politicians in states like California don’t report accurate data about abortion because they’re trying to hide the truth about abortion," Cotton said in a statement to Blaze Media. "The unavoidable truth is that abortion kills an innocent human being. Giving the American people accurate information will make the reality of abortion that much harder to ignore.”

The treatment of children who survive abortion attempts became a dominating part of the abortion discussion earlier this year after Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, D, said that under a proposed state-level abortion bill “the infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”

After Northam’s comments, the Senate voted on a bill that would have required that doctors provide medical care to the survivors of botched abortions; it failed when 44 Democrats voted against it. House Republicans have tried several times to bring the bill to the floor in the lower chamber and even filed a discharge petition on the matter, but Democratic leaders still refuse to allow a vote on the measure.

At a Capitol Hill event on the anti-infanticide legislation last month, Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., noted that only six states — Florida, Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Texas — currently have reporting requirements regarding children who survive abortions.

"Why the cover-up?" Smith asked. He answered by quoting former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Abortion Surveillance Unit, Dr. Willard cates who in 1981 said reporting abortion live-birth numbers is "like turning yourself into the IRS for an audit. What is there to gain?"

Cotton and Ernst's bill is also co-sponored by other Republican Sens. Marsha Blackburn, Tenn., Mike Braun, Ind., Kevin Cramer, N.D., Josh Hawley, Mo., James Lankford, Okla., Ben Sasse, Neb., and Tim Scott, S.C., the release adds. Its companion legislation was introduced earlier this year in the House by Republican Reps. Gary Palmer, Ala., and Ralph Norman, S.C.

“The truth is we have no idea how many children are born alive each year following an abortion procedure," a statement from Norman reads. "Congress needs this information in order to make sound policy decisions."

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