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UPDATED: Tulsi Gabbard introduces bills to protect abortion survivors and pain-capable unborn children

Pro-life groups praised Democrat's work

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Outgoing Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) has introduced two pro-life bills in the House of Representatives, one to protect abortion survivors and another to protect pain-capable unborn children from abortion.

The first piece of legislation, H.R. 8939, would ban late-term abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, the point at which an unborn child can feel pain. The second bill, H.R. 8923, would amend Title 18 of the United States Code "to ensure a health care practitioner exercises the proper degree of care in the case of a child who survives an abortion or attempted abortion." Live Action News reported that this bill has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.

Pro-life Republicans have long supported additional legislative measures to protect unborn children and those that survive abortion procedures, but Democrats generally have blocked efforts to pass such bills. Gabbard herself has voted against similar pro-life bills to the ones she has now introduced.

As a presidential candidate in the 2020 Democratic primary, Gabbard was heavily criticized by members of her party for taking a more moderate position on abortion and supporting some restrictions on abortion in the third trimester.

In a statement made to TheBlaze, Congresswoman Gabbard explained what her legislation does and how it differs from past bills she's opposed.

"The first bill is the 'Late Term Abortion Ban' bill, banning late-term abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, unless the mother is at risk of losing her life or faces severe, irreversible health consequences if an abortion is not performed. There was a bill previously introduced entitled the Pain Capable Unborn Child Act that I felt that I needed to oppose because it did not include an exception for severe irreversible health consequences. My legislation includes that exception," Gabbard said.

"The second is the 'Born Alive Abortion Survivors Act, which would prohibit what essentially is infanticide. If a late-term abortion is attempted and the baby is born alive, physicians must follow the same procedures that they would in any case of premature birth. The genesis of this bill came from seeing the infanticide bills introduced in Virginia and New York, how they would make it easier to get a late-term abortion, and if the baby is born alive, they would make the baby comfortable and then allow the baby to die."

Gabbard, who will retire from Congress at the end of her current term, has received praise from pro-life groups and activists for her legislation.

In a statement posted to Facebook, Democrats for Life of America thanked Gabbard for introducing the legislation, acknowledging that she previously opposed similar bills.

"Former Democratic Presidential Candidate Tulsi Gabbard introduced her SECOND Pro-Life bill this week, which would amend Title 18 of the U.S. code to give pain-capable fetuses rights under the law," said the pro-life group. "Tulsi has previously voted against this bill three times, but is now the SPONSOR of the new bill. [โ€ฆ] thank you Tulsi!"

"Democratic House Rep and former Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard has introduced two crucial bills, one to protect pain-capable fetuses and another to ensure the provision of healthcare for abortion survivors," Pro-Life San Francisco wrote in a Facebook post. "Both are fundamental to ensuring justice for UCSF's most vulnerable victims of fetal organ harvesting, and we are inspired to see them originate from a left-leaning national legislator. The future of California, the Democratic Party, and all of America is pro-life!"

Activists on the left, however, expressed hostility toward Gabbard because of her legislation.

"Tulsi Gabbard also introduced a redundant bill that claims to protect infants in the infinitesimally rare cases they are born after attempted abortions," feminist Jill Filipovic said, claiming that "infants are already legally protected."

Rewire editor Imani Gandy criticized Gabbard as well, tweeting, "You seem to be under the impression that born alive is a thing. It is not. Shame on you. I don't know what your problem is but you're turning out to be a real right wing s**t heel."

The Rev. Franklin Graham, a prominent evangelical leader and outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump, came to Gabbard's defense, asking, "She introduced a bill to protect babies who survive abortions & are born alive. How could any sane person be against that?"

Gabbard thanked Graham for his support.

Gabbard's pro-life legislation follows her introduction of a bill to ban males from competing in women's sports if they identify as transgender and the introduction of a bill with Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) to repeal the Patriot Act.

All of this legislation could attract bipartisan support but is unlikely to pass the Democrat-controlled House.

Editor's note: This article was updated to include a statement from Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and to adjust the description of her legislation in the second paragraph.

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