The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act fell short of the 60 votes it needed to move forward, as only 53 senators supported the measure while 44 voted against it. Those who voted in favor of the bill are all Republicans as well as three Democrats – Bob Casey (PA), Joe Manchin (WV), and Doug Jones (AL).
The bill defines “born-alive” as the complete extraction of the baby, regardless of the stage of development, from his or her mother, who has a beating heart, movement of voluntary muscles, and pulsation of the umbilical cord. Under this bill, doctors will be required to provide an infant born alive after a failed abortion the same care that they would give to any baby of the same developmental age. They will also be required to make sure that the baby is “is immediately transported and admitted to a hospital.”
Sponsored by Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act aims to protect babies who survived after a failed abortion. He first submitted it in 2017, though it did not reach the committee. A similar bill was sponsored that same year by then-House member Marsha Blackburn. While it passed the House, it failed in the Senate. Sasse said,” We are actually talking about babies that have been born. The only debate on the floor tonight is about infanticide… This is about fourth-trimester abortion.”
“Essentially, this means the rights of the mother or the parents trump the right of a newly born baby that survived abortion,” Judy McDonough from Intercessors of America(IFA) said.
Any healthcare practitioner who fails to meet the requirements of this law will lead to a fine and/or prison time of up to five years. The mother involved will not be charged with a crime as the bill prohibits the prosecution of the mother for conspiracy, an accessory after the fact or concealment of a felony. Instead, she can file a civil case against someone who does not meet the requirements of this bill.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), at least 143 babies could be classified as involving a failed abortion between 2003 and 2014.
For the Democrats who voted against the bill, as well as reproductive rights groups, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act is not necessary. In a statement, Dr. Leana Wen, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said the bill “is based on lies and a misinformation campaign, aimed at shaming women and criminalizing doctors for a practice that doesn’t exist in medicine or reality.”
Dr. Kristyn Brandi, a board member of Physicians for Reproductive Health, shared the same view, saying that there are existing laws to protect the baby after a botched abortion. She was referring to the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act that was passed by Congress in 2002, though it did not cover criminal fines for healthcare practitioners as well as specific requirements when it comes to providing medical care.
The most recent Marist Poll commissioned by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic organization shows a “dramatic shift” in public attitude toward abortion. The poll found Americans are now as likely to identify as pro-life (47%) as they are pro-choice (47%).
What can citizens do?
“Praying is great,” Judy McDonough, at Intercessors for America, told Southern California Christian Voice, “but we also need to add action to our prayers. The extremism is waking people up. This is infanticide.”