The U.S. Senate defeated a bill Tuesday that would require medical treatment for an unborn baby that survives an abortion, with 41 Democrats joining together to filibuster the legislation and prevent it from receiving a floor vote.
The bill, known as the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, would require that a baby “born alive is immediately transported and admitted to a hospital.”
“If an abortion results in the live birth of an infant, the infant is a legal person for all purposes under the laws of the United States, and entitled to all the protections of such laws,” the bill says.
Needing 60 votes to overcome a filibuster, the bill received only 56, with three Democrats (Bob Casey, Joe Manchin and Doug Jones) joining 53 Republicans to try and defeat the filibuster. The 41 Democrats who filibustered the bill included Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Three U.S. senators who are running for president, including Bernie Sanders, were not present for the vote.
The bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen Ben Sasse (Neb.), insisted during floor debate the bill was “not about abortion” but instead about “babies that are already born.”
“The bill we’re voting on doesn’t change anyone’s access to abortion. It doesn’t have anything to do with Roe v. Wade,” he said.
Democrats, Sasse said, were using “euphemisms about choice” in order to avoid the issue.
“They don’t want to defend the indefensible,” Sasse said. “… We’re talking about killing babies that are born.”
Under the text of the bill, the medical professional – and not the pregnant woman – would be charged if a baby is killed.
Sasse also criticized a CNN article for labeling a baby who survives an abortion a “fetus that has been born.”
“What the heck is that?” he asked. “It’s another way of saying they don’t want to debate the actual debate we’re having on the floor today.”
The Senate on Tuesday also defeated the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban abortion at 20 weeks, when the bill says the unborn baby can feel pain. The bill makes exceptions for rape, incest and to save the mother’s life. Needing 60 votes to overcome the filibuster, it received 53 (Democrats Casey and Manchin joined 51 Republicans). Republicans Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski sided with 42 Democrats to continue the filibuster.
“There is substantial medical evidence that an unborn child is capable of experiencing pain at least by 20 weeks after fertilization, if not earlier,” the bill’s text says. “It is the purpose of the Congress to assert a compelling governmental interest in protecting the lives of unborn children from the stage at which substantial medical evidence indicates that they are capable of feeling pain.”
Jacqueline Ayers, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood, said the two bills were pushing “misinformation meant to end access to abortion, and serve no other purpose than to shame patients and deny people the ability to make the best medical decisions for themselves and their families.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Jacek Sopotnicki
Video courtesy: Senator Ben Sasse
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.