Senate Democrats have blocked a pro-life bill that would have made it illegal for doctors to refuse medical care to babies who survive abortion. The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act threatened prison for medical personnel who allow the death of babies born alive after an attempted abortion. The Senate voted 53 to 44 in favor of the bill, but failed to reach the 60 vote threshold required to pass the measure.
All of the senators currently running as Democratic presidential candidates voted against the bill, sparking outrage from the GOP and even some pointed words from the president himself.
“Senate Democrats just voted against legislation to prevent the killing of newborn infant children,” President Trump wrote on Twitter. “The Democrat position on abortion is now so extreme that they don’t mind executing babies AFTER birth….”
Trump added that this action “will be remembered as one of the most shocking votes in the history of Congress.”
Senate Democrats just voted against legislation to prevent the killing of newborn infant children. The Democrat position on abortion is now so extreme that they don’t mind executing babies AFTER birth….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 26, 2019
The bill’s chief sponsor, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), also expressed his outrage.
“I want to ask each and every one of my colleagues whether or not we’re OK with infanticide,” he bellowed on the Senate floor, according to Fox News.
Today the Senate will vote on a straightforward piece of legislation to protect newborn babies. Let's be clear: The human rights of newborn boys and girls are innate. They don’t come and go based on the circumstances of birth.
A newborn baby is a newborn baby. Period.
— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) February 25, 2019
“This is about the most simple thing you can say, which is that a baby is a baby, and they have dignity and worth,” Sasse added. “And it’s not because they’re powerful. It’s because they’re babies. Today is a sad day in the United States Senate.”
Tonight, Senate Democrats blocked a vote on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. It’s unconscionable & inhumane that some in our country, especially members of Congress, are unwilling to take a stand and support the lives of newborns who survive an abortion attempt.
— Senator Mitt Romney (@SenatorRomney) February 25, 2019
“This shouldn’t be about politics,” he added. ” … This should be about having heart.”
In a statement responding to the vote, March for Life President Jeanne Mancini urged that those who opposed the bill “should reconsider whether or not they have what it takes to serve.”
What is the background?
The bill, the original form of which was first signed by President George W. Bush in back in 2002, would require that “any health care practitioner present” at the time of a birth must “exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as a reasonably diligent and conscientious health care practitioner would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age.”
While Bush’s “Born-Alive Infants Protection Act” outlined the legal rights afforded to newborn babies who survive abortion, Sen. Sasse’s latest proposal focuses more on the responsibility of medical staff who are tasked with taking care of the infant amid these tragic circumstances.
Sasse reintroduced his “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act” following a major backlash against a Virginia bill which would have allowed abortion right up to the moment of birth — something Sasse, and many others, defined as “infanticide.”
In 2002, the Born Alive Infant Protection Act was *unanimously* passed by the U.S. Senate
Today, 44 Democrats voted against the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.
— Michael New (@Michael_J_New) February 25, 2019
“In just a few years pro-abortion zealots went from ‘safe, legal, and rare’ to ‘keep the newborns comfortable while the doctor debates infanticide,’” Sasse said as he announced the bill earlier this month, as reported by National Review. “I don’t care what party you’re from — if you can’t say that it’s wrong to leave babies to die after birth, get the hell out of public office.”
Why did the Democrats oppose it?
Many of the opposing Democrats argued that, due to the original bipartisan legislation that was passed back in 2002, there is simply no need for this additional bill.
“Congress reaffirmed that fact with its passage of the bipartisan Born-Alive Infants Protection Act in 2002,” said Hillary Clinton’s 2016 running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), according to The Hill. “I support that law, which is still in effect. There is no need for additional federal legislation on this topic.”
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) went further, arguing that the goal of the legislation was “to bully doctors out of giving reproductive care, to scare them out of business one potential lawsuit or jail sentence at a time.”
. @SenDuckworth: "The goal here is obvious: to bully doctors out of giving reproductive care, to scare them out of business one potential lawsuit or jail sentence at a time." Absolute ??#ProtectProviders pic.twitter.com/yl7znB8UO0
— Center for Reproductive Rights (@ReproRights) February 25, 2019
In another tweet, she called the bill a “GOP attack on women’s rights.” This rhetoric was mirrored by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), who added that the bill “is just another line of attack in the ongoing war on women’s health.”
The bill was introduced after Virginia House Democrat Kathy Tran proposed a bill that would have, in some circumstances, allowed for the abortion of a live child even as the mother was in labor.
“Where it’s obvious a woman is about to give birth…would that be a point at which she could still request an abortion?” Republican Todd Gilbert asked during a House subcommittee hearing. “She’s dilating..”
“My bill would allow that, yes,” Tran responded.
This shocking assertion was then backed up by Democrat Gov. Ralph Northam during a widely shared radio interview.
When asked to explain what Tran meant when she said the bill would allow women to abort their children even as their body is dilating and preparing to deliver, Northam offered an unsettling response as to what would happen next.
“If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen,” he said. “The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”