Opinion: What pro-life policymakers must do in the next Congress

Staff File Photo By Olivia Ross / Jim Pope hands out buttons reading "Thank God my mother did not abort me" during a Georgia Right to Life rally in front of the Ringgold Courthouse earlier this year.

The GOP finally managed to take control of the House of Representatives. So, what should pro-life lawmakers do to advance their cause in the next Congress?

Some may be tempted to avoid this topic altogether, as too many Republicans did for the last several months. But silence isn't an acceptable strategy. Instead, they should go on offense and advance policies that protect innocent unborn life while exposing Democratic extremism on abortion.

They don't have to reach for the full pro-life enchilada, where every person is protected and welcomed in both life and law, on day one. Even the next-best goal, legislation to protect unborn human beings after a heartbeat is detected, would be a massive uphill battle. After all, Joe Biden is still in the White House, and the Senate presents its own challenges.

But pro-lifers in the House need to do everything they can to advance the ball and, importantly, expose the soft pro-abortion underbelly -- which now tolerates even infanticide.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court corrected Roe v. Wade's grave error and returned abortion policy to the American people. In response, many states have moved to protect unborn children and their mothers. Meanwhile, pro-abortion states like California and New York are trying to make themselves abortion magnets.

This patchwork of pro-life and pro-abortion states can't be the pro-life end goal. There's a lot of work to do in the states. But Congress can do a lot in 2023 at the federal level -- both to protect unborn life and to force the champions of abortions to defend the indefensible.

First, Congress should protect babies who survive abortions with something like the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. This would require that infants born alive after an abortion receive proper medical care and make providers who fail to do so pay a legal price.

At the moment, many abortion survivors are vulnerable to neglect and death, especially in abortion sanctuaries. Fixing this problem is a no-brainer.

Second, Congress should protect unborn children from sex-selective abortions. No child in the womb should be killed just for being a boy or girl. Sex selection against females is especially common. Surely most members of Congress can agree little girls deserve the chance to be born.

Third, Congress must address the interstate flow of dangerous abortion drugs. With our current patchwork of laws, abortion "sanctuary" states and rogue abortion pill pushers are working to undermine states that protect women and babies from these pills.

These DIY abortions put women's health and safety at risk. Congress should stop them.

Fourth, Congress should end taxpayer funding for abortions -- and the abortion industry, like Planned Parenthood -- once and for all. In recent months, Biden announced executive actions to fund abortions with tax dollars through the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration. Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood still nets over half a billion dollars from taxpayers every year.

Congress can block this funding through a patchwork of riders during the annual appropriations process.

This pro-life agenda is just a start. Would most or all of these fail to overcome a Senate filibuster, or die from a Biden veto? Sure. But those outcomes would expose the abortion extremism on the other side.

Pro-life policymakers must take the field in the new Congress. It's time to show the American people what a robust pro-life, pro-woman, pro-family playbook looks like.

Melanie Israel is a policy analyst in The Heritage Foundation's DeVos Center for Life, Family, and Religion. Jay Richards, the Center's director, is Heritage's William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow.

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