Franks hopeful for ‘born alive’ abortion bill with Trump in White House

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Glendale, is optimistic about the chances for his “born-alive” abortion bill, which has failed twice but now faces a GOP Congress and White House. With him is Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma. (Photo by Joseph Guzman/Cronkite News)

WASHINGTON – Rep. Trent Franks, R-Glendale, said he has high hopes that his twice-defeated Born-Alive Survivors Protections Act will pass this year with President Donald Trump in the White House and Republicans in control of both chambers of Congress.

“I wasn’t always a Trump guy in the primary because he wasn’t always with us on this issue as you know,” Franks said Tuesday. “But I’ve seen everything that he’s done that has changed to go in the right direction.”

Franks was referring to Trump’s signing Monday of an executive order banning federal funding for international organizations that promote or provide abortions, the first of what is expected to be a week of anti-abortion activity that culminates in Friday’s annual March for Life.

As part of those activities, Franks was invited to speak at a forum Tuesday on his bill, which would require any doctor who is present during a failed abortion to admit the “born alive” infant to a hospital for care or face criminal charges. The bill the House in 2015 on a 248-177 vote, but was stalled in the Senate.

“I’ve introduced every pro-life effort you can think of,” Franks said to a room of pro-life advocates. “And I say this without overemphasizing, it but because I believe it’s true: I believe this is the most important bill I have ever had the privilege to introduce.”

But a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Arizona said there is no need for Franks’ bill, since there are already laws on the books to deal with what she called an extremely rare occurrence.

“In 2002, Republican President George Bush signed a born-alive protection act, so it is sort of puzzling why he keeps introducing this legislation,” said Jodi Liggett, the Planned Parenthood official.

“You have legislation that already deals with this subject, plus you have doctors who have taken their oath. There are layers of ethical rules and laws that typically deal with this,” Liggett said. “We think Mr. Frank’s bill is unnecessary and is really just a pretext to just grandstand this particular issue.”

Liggett added that the occurrence of a “born alive” infant during an abortion is incredibly uncommon since late-term abortions across the country are rare. She said Arizona lawmakers should be more responsive to what their constituents care about.

“People care about this economy moving again and that’s what they want their congress people to focus on – not dog-whistle issues,” she said.

But those issues have commanded the attention of the House and the White House this week.

In addition to Trump’s signing his order regarding what is known as the “Mexico City policy,” the House voted 238-183 to pass HR 7, which would prohibit federal funding of abortions and block use of federal funds for insurance policies under the Affordable Care Act that include abortion coverage.

Franks called Trump’s action on the Mexico City policy “absolutely the right thing.”

“To force taxpayers to pay for killing children overseas is not exactly an American value,” Franks said. “I’m hoping that we will protect these babies. There’s nothing more American than protecting the most helpless of all children.”

Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, who has introduced his own anti-abortion legislation and is a supporter of Franks’ bill, joined the Arizona lawmaker on the Tuesday panel.

“The left has stood up and said, ‘Pay no attention to the child. Pay all attention to the woman,'” Lankford said. “For us it’s a simple thing, we want to look at both people and say they both have great value. This bill on its face is not about abortion, it’s about a child.”

The born-alive bill is one of three Franks has introduced this year. He said all previously won majority votes in the House and he is confident that all would pass if they were put to a vote, a move that Franks believes would have profound implications on Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision recognizing a woman’s right to an abortion.

But Vicki Saporta, president and CEO of the National Abortion Federation, said Franks’ born-alive bill is just part of the “Trump-Pence assault on safe, legal abortion care.” She pointed to Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington as proof that Americans want to protect abortion rights.

“It (Franks’ bill) is intended to intimidate abortion providers so they stop providing abortion care,” Saporta said. “As we saw this weekend when millions of people marched nationwide in support of women’s access to safe, legal abortion care, these types of restrictions are not in line with the views of the majority of Americans.”