Rep Lauren Boebert of Colorado held up images of human foetuses at a hearing on the Endangered Species Act, asking Democratic colleagues whether they would “put babies on the endangered species list.”
Ms Boebert’s presentation came just after she was recognised to speak at the hearing by Rep Cliff Bentz of Oregon.
“Before my opening remarks, since we’re talking about the Endangered Species Act, I’m just wondering whether my colleagues on the other side would put babies on the endangered species list,” Ms Boebert said. “These babies were born in Washington DC, full term. I don’t know, maybe that’s a way we can save some children here in the United States.”
Ms Boebert held up multiple photographs of human foetuses as she suggested that humans were an endangered species in a county that is currently home to more than 330 million people. Washington DC alone has a population of more than 700,000 people. In comparison, there are fewer than 10,000 red pandas left in the world and fewer than 5,000 tigers.
Ms Boebert then moved on to reveal broad concerns with the way the Endangered Species Act is currently used.
“For far too long, the Endangered Species Act has been weaponised by extremist environmentalists to obstruct common sense, multiple-use activities that they disagree with,” Ms Boebert said.
The Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973 and signed by President Richard Nixon to protect from total extinction a number of animals threatened by human actions. It has been credited in part with the population recovery of a number of species, including the bald eagle, Peregrine falcon and gray wolf.
There is an extensive process for getting a species onto the endangered list. That process can include the drafting of a petition, a status review, a public notice process, and potentially a public hearing leading up to a final review. The entire process is supposed to take no more than two years, though a 2016 study found that it has taken an average of 12 years for species to be listed.
Since Ms Boebert joined Congress in 2021, meanwhile, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade and a number of states have rolled back abortion rights.