Senate Democrats, led by U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Washington) blocked a motion for unanimous consent to pass the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act sponsored by U.S. Senator Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska).
The bill, S. 130, follows comments Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s comments defending infanticide and New York’s repeal the state’s protections for abortion survivors.
The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act seeks to update language in the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act that was passed into law in 2002. It stated a matter of federal law that “every infant member of the species homo sapiens who is born alive at any stage of development” is a “person” for all federal law purposes. It was passed by unanimous consent.
Sasse’s bill was designed to further clarify the duty of care owed to infants born alive during an attempted abortion.
Any health care practitioner present at the time the child is born alive shall—
“(A) 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; and
“(B) following the exercise of skill, care, and diligence required under subparagraph (A), ensure that the child born alive is immediately transported and admitted to a hospital.
A motion for unanimous consent requires only one Senator to object in order to block the motion. Murray was the only Senate Democrat to come to the floor of the Senate to block the bill. She stated that the bill is unnecessary because there are already laws prohibiting infanticide.
“This isn’t about Republicans or Democrats. We’re way beyond that. Everyone in the Senate ought to be able to say unequivocally that the little baby deserves life, that she has rights, and that killing her is wrong,” Sasse said introducing his resolution.
“It’s based on the simple idea that every baby deserves a fighting chance. It’s a simple idea that every human being is an image bearer, even the weakest and the most marginalized among us are no less human, and every one of us has a moral obligation to defend the defenseless,” he added.
Sasse also rebuked Northam.
“Governor Northam is a disgraced coward and he has such an abysmally view of human dignity that he couldn’t bring himself to say this basic truth: it’s wrong to let little babies who’ve been born die,” he said.
After Murray’s object, several of Sasse’s colleagues who among the original co-sponsors spoke in support of the bill.
“This is the world’s greatest legislate body. There is nothing great, there is nothing moral or even humane, about the discussion that we have before us today,” U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said.
“Somehow this conversation has devolved so completely that a bill prohibiting the murder of children who are born alive, a bill that simply prohibits infanticide, has tonight been blocked on the floor of the Senate,” she added expressing her disgust.
“It is hard to fathom the extremism of politicians in New York and now Virginia who would deny the protections of law to the most vulnerable members of our society, the innocent unborn, even up to birth. Is this really the extremism of the Democratic party?”
“How can this be a discussion we’re having on the Senate floor? It used to be my Democratic colleagues said life begins at birth. Now, apparently, it’s not at life anymore. It’s unknown when life begins. Because it’s a discussion now at birth,” U.S. Senator James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) lamented.
The bill could still see a roll call vote. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell insinuated that a roll call vote could still happen.
“I hope that none of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle invent any reasons to block this request later today. That would make quite a disturbing statement. If they do inexplicably block Senator Sasse’s effort, I can assure them that this will not be the last time we try to ensure that all newborns are afforded this fundamental legal protection,” McConnell said earlier on Monday.
Pro-life groups blasted Senate Democrats for blocking the bill.
“Senate Democrats had the chance today to prove they are not the party of infanticide, and instead they doubled down on extremism,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “The Democratic Party’s agenda of abortion on demand through birth and even beyond is radically out of step with the standards of decency the overwhelming majority of Americans expect from their leaders. We urge the Senate to bring the bill to the floor for a recorded vote so Americans can know where each senator stands, and we urge its passage. It’s time to get this bill swiftly to the President’s desk for his signature.”
“Infanticide is unacceptable in a civilized society, regardless of what one may think about abortion itself. Whether it’s by negligence or with intentionality, the killing of a baby who has been born alive—even if he or she survives an abortion–is abhorrent. This atrocity must stop. America must be better than this,” Perkins added.
“Every human life is valuable and every single baby deserves to be protected. Alliance Defending Freedom works for a world where abortion is unthinkable and undesirable. We defend the pregnancy centers and medical professionals who offer expecting moms hope and help. We respectfully challenge our elected leaders to affirm the basic human rights of vulnerable children—born and unborn. We’re disappointed by the Senate’s failure to provide legal protection for babies who survive abortions. We’re grateful for Sen. Sasse’s leadership and for every elected leader who understands the human rights at stake and fights to protect vulnerable babies,” Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner stated.