The Senate Committee on the Judiciary held a new hearing on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act on Tuesday, with legislators again considering the measure to mandate medical treatment for infants who survive and attempted abortion.
The Feb. 11 committee hearing comes after Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) reintroduced the bill for the 2020 legislative session. The Senate blocked the legislation in 2019, and a House of Representatives version was similarly stalled.
“We’re not even having a debate here about first, or second, or third-trimester abortion. I’m obviously a pro-lifer, but that’s not what this is about,” Sasse told CNA in an interview on Monday.
“This is about babies that survive botched abortions, and whether or not they deserve the same level of care that other babies get at the same gestational stage. And the answer for all humans should obviously be yes, if people aren’t just obsessed with politics.”
Sasse said that the Democratic Party has been “completely captured by the abortion industry,” which is why his bill has not seen support from any of his Democratic colleagues.
The bill does not make abortion illegal, nor does it create any obstacles that would prevent a woman from having an abortion. Instead, it requires that doctors who discover that a baby has been born alive following an attempted abortion provide appropriate medical care to the infant.
At the hearing on Tuesday, Sasse said that his bill “is not about overturning Roe v. Wade,” and that “this hearing is not about limiting access to abortion at all.” Rather, he said, he was hosting the hearing to make “sure that every newborn has a fighting chance,” regardless of the circumstances of their birth.
In 2002, President George W. Bush signed into law the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which provided legal rights to an infant born alive at any stage of pregnancy. Unlike Sasse’s bill, the 2002 law does not contain criminal penalties for a doctor who refuses to provide medical care, nor does it require any specific medical intervention.
Sasse’s legislation requires the same “appropriate” medical care that would be provided to an infant born at the same gestational age if the delivery had not involved an attempted abortion.
In February 2019, Senate Democrats voted to block the bill by a vote of 53-44. In order to advance the legislative process, 60 members of the Senate had to vote in favor of the bill. All but three Democratic senators, including presidential candidates Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Amy Klochubar (D-MN), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) voted to end consideration of the bill.
The three Democrats who joined the 50 Republicans present were Sens. Doug Jones (D-PA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Bob Casey (D-PA). Three Republican senators missed the vote due to scheduling problems.
Sasse told CNA that he hopes there will not be a repeat of the filibuster tactics deployed to stop the bill last year.
“Last year when we got this to a vote, we ended up with a majority, we ended up with a bipartisan vote, and we had a president that wanted to sign it,” said Sasse. “But there were also a bunch of Democrats who decided they wanted to orchestrate their party into a filibuster against the legislation. And I hope that doesn’t happen again this time.”
President Donald Trump, who was vocally in favor of the bill, tweeted his anger after Senate Democrats blocked the legislation.
“Senate Democrats just voted against legislation to prevent the killing of newborn infant children. The Democrat position on abortion is now so extreme that they don’t mind executing babies AFTER birth,” said Trump on Twitter. He said the day would be remembered as “one of the most shocking votes in the history of Congress.”
“If there’s one thing we should all agree on, it’s protecting the lives of innocent babies,” Trump added.