Senate Democrats on Thursday defeated an amendment that would have allowed for criminal and civil penalties for doctors who fail to provide health care for a baby who survives an abortion.
Needing 60 votes to be placed in the budget resolution, the amendment by Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) received 52 votes. A total of 48 senators – all Democrats – opposed the amendment.
The amendment would have required that doctors give a baby who survives an abortion the same health care as any other baby that age. Specifically, the amendment would have allowed for the “creation of criminal and civil penalties” for “providers who fail to exercise the same degree of care for babies who survive an abortion or attempted abortion as would be provided to another child born at the same gestational age.”
Sasse, in a brief speech on the Senate floor, presented it as a bipartisan amendment. In the end, though, it received support from only two Democrats: Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Bob Casey (Pa.). The two recently elected Democrats from Georgia - Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff – opposed it. All 50 Republicans voted for it.
Sasse called it a “pretty simple” issue.
“Every baby, whether she's born in a state of the art hospital with a NICU unit, or whether she's born in an abortion clinic in a strip mall – every baby is born with dignity, and is created in God's image,” Sasse said. “And she deserves care. This amendment is aimed at making sure that babies who survive abortions get the same degree of care that any other newborn would. There's nothing partisan about that.”
Sasse added, “There's a lot of complicated debates in this chamber but this isn't actually one of them. Here's a chance for 100 senators to come together and support every baby. Every baby deserves a fighting chance.”
The pro-life Susan B. Anthony List applauded Sasse and criticized senators who opposed the amendment.
BREAKING: 52 senators just voted to protect living, breathing babies who survive an abortion. (60 votes were required to pass)— Susan B. Anthony List (@SBAList) February 5, 2021
Requiring medical care for newborn infants shouldn't be up for debate.
77% of voters agree.
This SHOULD have passed 100-0. pic.twitter.com/jM3n8vYgKV
“Requiring medical care for newborn infants shouldn't be up for debate,” Susan B. Anthony List said in a tweet. “... If you can't even vote to protect born-alive infants, you have no business claiming you value unity (or justice).”
Thank you @SenSasse for introducing the amendment tonight that simply requires EQUAL medical care for infants, whether they're born in the L&D ward of a hospital, or "accidentally" in an abortion facility pic.twitter.com/MLAtZWXTs9— Susan B. Anthony List (@SBAList) February 5, 2021
U.S. Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) tweeted, “Senate Democrats voted to deny medical care for a baby born ALIVE after a botched abortion. This isn't healthcare, this is infanticide. It’s chilling.”
Senate Democrats voted to deny medical care for a baby born ALIVE after a botched abortion. This isn't healthcare, this is infanticide. It’s chilling.— Steve Daines (@SteveDaines) February 5, 2021
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Drew Angerer/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.