the United States Capitol
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Two pro-life bills failed to obtain the required 60 votes to reach cloture in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday afternoon. 

The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Act, S.311, failed to obtain cloture by a 56 to 41 vote on Tuesday afternoon. It was a largely party-line vote with every Republican voting in favor of cloture and every Democrat, but three voting against it.  

U.S. Senators Bob Casey, D-Pa., Doug Jones, D-Ala., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., voted with Republicans in favor of the bill. U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., were not present for the vote due to the Democratic presidential debate in South Carolina on Tuesday evening.

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, S.3275, failed to reach cloture by a 53 to 44 mostly party-line vote. Casey and Manchin joined with Republicans while U.S. Senators Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, joined Democrats to vote no.

The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Act, sponsored by U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, R-Neb., establishes requirements for the degree of care a health care practitioner must exercise in the event a child is born alive following an abortion or attempted abortion.

Health care practitioners, under the bill, are required to exercise the same degree of care as reasonably provided to another child born alive at the same gestational age. They are also required to admit the child to the hospital immediately. The penalties under the bill for failing to comply is a fine and up to five years in prison or both. 

“This is about the babies that have already been born. This is about whether that baby, who has survived the abortion and is now laying on the abortion table, or on the medical table. Whether or not that cold, naked baby, alone, has a right to medical care. We all know the answer. The answer is, “Of course she does!” Every baby dies if you leave her to passively die of exposure. Whether she was born in a gold-plated hospital with a lot of fancy, expensive cars in the parking lot outside that NICU unit or whether or not she was born in the unfortunate circumstances of an abortion clinic in a strip mall. Every little baby that’s already been born? They’ll die if you deny care to them. And so, of course, we shouldn’t do that. Of course, the United States Senate should stand up and defend those babies. We all know that denying care to the most vulnerable among us is barbaric, and this body ought to be able to stand 100 to 0 against that barbarism. It’s inhumane, and it’s passive infanticide, and the Senate should, today, condemn and prohibit that practice,” Sasse said during his remarks about the bill.

“Is that practice what my colleagues really want to defend?” he asked. 

Watch his full remarks:

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, sponsored by U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., establishes criminal offenses for performing or attempting to perform an abortion if the probable post-fertilization age of an unborn baby is 20 weeks or more. Violators are also subject to criminal penalties, including a fine, up to five years in prison, or both. 

“Medical science has determined that a child at 20-weeks is capable of feeling excruciating pain. So, if there’s an operation to save a child’s life or to repair a medical defect at 20-weeks, they provide anesthesia to the child because, during the surgery, the child feels pain,” Graham said in his remarks about the bill. 

“The bottom line is I find it odd that medical science requires anesthesia to save the baby’s life, but during that same period, you can dismember a child. That’s what we’re talking about here,” Graham added.

Watch his full remarks:

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, who voted in favor of both bills, spoke on the Senate floor about the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a bill she co-sponsored.

She spoke of Micah Pickering, an Iowan who was born at 22 weeks. 

“Today, Micah is happy, and he’s healthy, and he is seven years old. Now, he was born at 22 weeks, and that’s some of the babies we are talking about today. They’re born at 22 weeks. Now when Micah was born, he was literally the size of a bag of M&Ms—a tiny baby,” Ernst said.

“Now, folks, can’t we all agree that this is a baby and that babies like Micah, who survived a premature birth at, again, twenty-two weeks, and we are talking about those that survived, those that are at 20 weeks, which is more than halfway through a pregnancy—are deserving of protection? I agree to that,” she added.

Ernst pointed out that the only difference between Micah and babies aborted at 22 weeks is that he was wanted.

“The degree to which a child – of any age – is wanted does not diminish their value, and we have an obligation as lawmakers to protect their right to life,” she said.

Speaking in support of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Act, Ernst said, “Given that we have an estimated 143 babies who died between 2003 and 2014 after surviving abortion, it’s clear that we need to strengthen the current law. These babies deserved the basic medical standard of care – regardless of how wanted they may have been.”

“Every life – from the baby who has just been conceived to each and every one of you in this room tonight – has value,” she added.

Watch her full remarks:

Pro-life groups condemned Senate Democrats who blocked the bills.

“Today Democrats continued their abortion extremism, filibustering bills to stop painful late-term abortions and infanticide. They will pay for their abortion extremism at the ballot box this November,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “SBA List is working tirelessly across battleground states to educate key voters – including pro-life Democrats – about these issues to persuade them to vote pro-life. We believe this will provide President Trump and the pro-life Senate majority the margin of victory come November. Given the popularity of these bills and the heavy political losses Democrats will continue to suffer by opposing them, it is only a matter of time until they become law.”

“It is a very sad day for the unborn, and I pray God’s forgiveness over our country. Planned Parenthood and abortion extremists’ death grip have once again prevailed through the Democrat party. Today they voted to turn their backs to protect babies who feel pain or are born alive from a failed abortion. It is unconscionable that Democrats stand on the side of authoritarian regimes like China and North Korea who condone the killing of unborn children until birth and leave unwanted newborns to die. Unfortunately, that is where our country’s laws stand today,” Penny Nance, CEO and President of Concerned Women of America, said.

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