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Senate Bill Protecting Infants Who Survive Attempted Abortions Blocked by Democrats

Do you support stronger protections for infants born alive after attempted abortions?

by Countable | 2.4.19

Sen. Ben Sasse’s (R-NE) effort to pass his Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act unanimously through the Senate was blocked Monday after Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) objected to his request.

Sasse made his unanimous consent request in response to comments made last week by embattled Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) in defense of a now-stalled bill he supported that would’ve loosened state restrictions on late-term abortions:

“If a mother is in labor 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 physician and the mother.”

On the floor of the Senate, Sasse implored Democrats to allow his bill to pass, saying “don’t let Gov. Northam define you." Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) objected to his unanimous consent request, saying “we already have laws against infanticide”.

What would Sasse’s bill do?

Sasse’s bill, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (S.130) would:

  • Require healthcare providers to extend “reasonably diligent and conscientious care” to an infant born alive following an attempted abortion.
  • Healthcare providers would be required to take appropriate steps to save the infant’s life given its age and health, and immediately transport and admit the infant to a hospital.
  • If a healthcare provider fails to comply with those requirements they would face fines and up to five years imprisonment, or potentially murder charges if their actions lead to the born alive infant’s death.
  • The mother of the child that is born alive couldn’t face prosecution under this legislation. She could, however, file a civil lawsuit against the healthcare provider for compensatory and punitive damages.

Sasse’s bill would go beyond what Congress did in legislation that was enacted more than a decade and a half ago:

  • The Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2002 after unanimously passing Congress, clarifies that for the purpose of federal law the terms “person”, “human being”, “child”, and “individual” include every infant born alive — whether the birth is the result of labor, c-section, or induced abortion.
  • However, it doesn’t contain its own criminal penalties or enforcement mechanisms to hold abortion providers accountable for failing to provide medical attention and care to infants born alive.

What’s next for the bill?

While Sasse (or some of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act’s 40 cosponsors) could make further attempts to pass the bill through unanimous consent they’ll likely face objections similar to those they faced today.

Given that dynamic, Sasse also added the bill to the Senate calendar under the Rule 14 process. That means it can be brought to the floor at a time of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) choosing without having to be considered by a relevant committee first, and in his floor remarks earlier in the day he indicated he would do just that if the bill was blocked:

“I hope that none of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle invent any reason to block this request later today. That would make quite a disturbing statement. If they do inexplicably block Sen. Sasse’s effort, I can assure them this will not be the last time we ensure that all newborns are afforded this fundamental legal protection.”

— Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: iStock.com / 101dalmatians)

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