Republicans Seek to Force House Vote on Whether Life Begins at Conception 

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With the Supreme Court expected to soon announce a pivotal decision that could overturn Roe v. Wade, Republican lawmakers are using a procedural tactic to try to force a House vote on recognizing life at conception. 

“We could put the most benign, most modest life proposal forward and get zero Democrat votes, or we could put a bold, strong life proposal forward and get zero Democrat votes in this Congress,” Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., who started a discharge petition on a bill, told The Daily Signal in an interview at the Capitol.

Good’s discharge petition to force one-hour of floor debate and a House vote has 60 cosponsors.  Under House rules, if a discharge petition gains 218 signatures from House members, it would force the full House to vote on the matter. The Life at Conception Act has more than 150 cosponsors. The Democrats hold a narrow House majority of 220 to 209 Republicans. 

Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W. Va., sponsored the Life at Conception legislation, which is not a national abortion ban, but if enacted would mean Congress recognizes life at conception. 

“Here, the science is very clear. Every biology-knowledgeable person in the world can tell you that human life begins at conception,” Mooney told The Daily Signal in a phone interview. “It’s a biological fact. The lifespan of all species begins at conception. It is a fact.” 

Multiple embryology textbooks have said life begins at conception. President Joe Biden recently said when life begins in a debatable matter, but as vice president in 2012 said he believed life begins at conception. 

“The whole basis of Roe v. Wade is that life is not defined when it begins. It explicitly said Congress does not define life,” Mooney added. “The main purpose of the bill is that Roe v. Wade is not necessary because Congress defines life at conception now. All that would do is return it to the states to enforce or or not enforce it.” 

In May, a draft decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case leaked showing a majority of the high court is expected to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that nationalized the abortion issue. 

After the leak, Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., the chairwoman of the House Pro-Choice Caucus, said Congress must enshrine abortion in federal law. 

“We are still fighting every day to protect and expand abortion access across the country,” DeGette said in a public statement. “And, now more than ever, we need our colleagues in the U.S. Senate to do the same by passing the Women’s Health Protection Act immediately to enshrine the right to access abortion care into federal law.”

Both parties have used this discharge petition strategy, which is rarely successful. However, Democrats have made dire warnings and repeatedly asserted the majority is backing them on abortion, so in theory would have a motivation to see such a vote for the record. 

“It would force a floor vote if we could get to 218, which obviously we know is a very long shot in this Congress,” Good said. 

“Democrats are so radically extreme on abortion, they have become where they have embraced themselves as the party of death who does not believe in any restriction on abortion at any time for any reason, up until and perhaps beyond the moment of birth at taxpayer expense,” he added. “So they are the extremists … So, we should embrace the mantra as the party of life.” 

Heritage Action executive director Jessica Anderson supports the discharge petition. 

“In the face of the left’s crusade to promote abortion for all, Rep. Good continues to be a stalwart advocate for the unborn and his leadership on pro-life issues should be lauded,” Anderson said in public statement. “The unborn are our most vulnerable population and we find hope in knowing that Rep. Good will not be deterred from his mission to protect life.”

Heritage Action is the advocacy arm of The Heritage Foundation, the parent organization of The Daily Signal. 

Addressing biology would make the abortion argument difficult going forward, Mooney asserted. 

“It makes it harder for the pro-abortion community to explain why they are OK with abortion knowing that it is a human life,” Mooney said. “So they just don’t want to admit that. But it is a biological fact.” 

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