On Monday, February 25, the U.S. Senate failed to advance S. 311, the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, sponsored by Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska). The bill needed 60 votes and failed by a vote of 53-44, with three senators not voting: Sens. Cramer (R-North Dakota), Scott (R-South Carolina), and Murkowski (R-Alaska). Sens. Cramer and Scott’s offices informed CWA they were unable to attend the vote due to weather delays. They are both original cosponsors of the bill and would have voted “yes.” Sen. Tim Scott spoke at length on the Senate floor the day after the vote, declaring: “This is common sense; this is human decency. This is not an issue of being pro-life or pro-choice. This is being pro-child.” For information on how your senator voted, click here.
Democrat Sens. Manchin (D-West Virginia), Jones (D-Alabama), and Casey (D-Pennsylvania) joined the 53–vote majority, while every other Senate Democrat opposed Born Alive. Their excuses for defending infanticide on the Senate floor were straight from the talking points of Planned Parenthood and NARAL. Many of them claimed this does not happen. Wrong. Documented statistics by the Center for Disease Control say otherwise. Only six states require reporting cases of infants born alive after an attempted abortion, so we don’t know just how frequently this happens, but there is no question that it does. Abortion survivors like Melissa Ohden and Gianna Jessen have testified before Congress detailing their personal stories and asking for protections for babies who survive abortion.
Democrats also claimed the bill is unnecessary, because killing a child born alive is already illegal. While Congress did pass, and President George W. Bush signed into law, the Born Alive Infants Protection Act in 2002, it only defined a “person,” “human being,” “child,” or “individual” as including every infant born alive for the purposes of federal law. But the law did not contain any penalty provisions or requirements. This is the issue the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act seeks to correct. It would give law enforcement the legal tools to bring criminal penalties against a health care professional who fails to provide care for a child who is born alive. Some states do impose penalties, but New York repealed their born alive law, and Vermont is close to doing so. Federal law must address this.
Here are the facts about the Born Alive Act: It is NOT about private medical decisions between a woman and her doctor and does not change abortion laws. It is not about first–, second–, or third–trimester abortions; it is about infanticide. The bill only addresses failed abortions and would not substitute Congress’ judgment for standard medical practice in heartbreaking cases when a child is born but is not viable. It mandates the same degree of care be granted to children who survive abortions that would be given to a child born in other circumstances at the same gestational age, including hospitalization. It also shields birth mothers from prosecution and grants them the right to take civil action against a health care professional who fails to provide this care.
The Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act is not an extreme “anti-choice” bill. 82% of Americans oppose removing medical care for a viable child after birth, including 77% of pro-choice Americans. Undeniably, Americans widely support this bill. It is now up to the House to correct the failure of the Senate. Speaker Pelosi is standing in the way by denying daily requests to bring this bill to the House floor. Next month, House Republicans will attempt to force the bill on the floor for a vote through a discharge petition. Please call your congressman today and ask him/her to cosponsor H.R. 962, the House version of S. 311, and sign the discharge petition when it is ready for consideration.