Senate Democrats voted to ensure that babies who survive abortion can die without care on Monday evening.
Democrats blocked the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act in a Monday roll call vote, which would have made it mandatory for doctors to provide medical care to babies who are born alive during an abortion. The bill needed 60 votes to pass, but fell on a 53-44 vote. Democrats voted in favor of the position outlined by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam in a radio interview defending legislation defending abortion.
"The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable," Northam said. "The infant would be resuscitated if that's what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother."
The legislation sponsored by Sen. Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) had nothing to do with Roe v. Wade and the ability to obtain an abortion, but only babies outside of the womb—like those described by Northam. The bill is overwhelmingly popular with voters, including a vast majority of those who identify as pro-choice; 70 percent of Democrats, 75 percent of independents, and 86 percent of Republicans support providing care to abortion survivors, according to the McLaughlin & Associates poll commissioned by the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List.
Sasse took to the Senate floor emphasizing that the bill would not apply to Roe v. Wade just prior to the vote. He said Democratic rhetoric about the Born-Alive act had "nothing to do what's in this bill."
"As you get ready to cast this vote, picture a baby that's already been born, that is outside the womb, gasping for air. That's the only thing that today's vote is actually about," he said. "We're talking about babies who've already been born, nothing in this bill touches abortion access."
Democrat Mazie Hirono (D., Hawaii) called the bill a "solution in search of a problem" and a "threat to women's reproductive health." She said physicians and mothers should be left to decide whether a live infant should receive care or be allowed to die the table, rather than the law.
"Conservative politicians should not be telling doctors how they should care for their patients. instead women, in consultation with their families and doctors, are in the best position to determine their best course of care," she said.
Every Republican in the chamber voted to approve the act, along with red state Democrats Bob Casey (D., Penn.), Doug Jones (D., Ala.), and Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.). The Trump administration endorsed the bill ahead of the vote, saying that it was necessary to "prevent infanticide" and "ensure that the life of one baby is not treated as being more or less valuable than another."
"The bill draws a sorely needed bright line of protection around abortion survivors by requiring that they be given the same level of care as any other premature infant," the administration said. "A baby that survives an abortion, and is born alive into this world should be treated just like any other baby."
Pro-life activists said that the roll call vote exposed the radical positions of the majority of the Democratic Party, including self-described moderates like Tim Kaine, as out-of-step with the country. Terry Schilling, executive director of the American Principles Project, said the vote should have been unanimous given that it only applied to live births.
"Infanticide is wrong. This is something virtually all Americans agree on, and clarifying it in federal law should not be controversial," he said. "The Senate's failure today to affirm even this basic truth by voting down the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act will surely be remembered years from now as one of the most disgraceful moments in our history."
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, said that politicians have caved to special interests and the abortion lobby at the expense of the beliefs of their own voters. The result is an "extreme agenda" that targets babies outside of the womb.
"Today’s vote exposes beyond all doubt the modern Democratic Party’s extreme agenda of abortion on demand through the moment of birth and even beyond—a deeply unpopular position even within their own rank and file," she said in a statement.