Senate Republicans reintroduced a bill to protect newborns who survive abortions, setting up a vote that could force top Democratic presidential candidates to stake out an extreme position on the issue or risk angering abortion groups.
Last year, 2020 hopefuls Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) voted to block the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which would guarantee potentially life-saving care for infants. On Thursday, Sen. Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) reintroduced the bill, which he sponsors, with identical language to last year's proposed statute requiring doctors to care for children who survive abortion.
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Sasse emphasized that the bill would not affect abortion access and only applies to life outside the womb. He called on his Democratic colleagues to stand with voters against the abortion industry.
"This ought to be the most bipartisan issue in the history of politics," Sasse told the Washington Free Beacon. "Planned Parenthood has waged a massive propaganda campaign against this basic human rights bill and sadly a lot of Democrat politicians—not Democratic voters—have bought it."
Voters overwhelmingly support Born Alive legislation. A 2019 poll found that 77 percent of voters, including a majority of self-described pro-choice respondents, support providing life-saving care to survivors. But the bills have faced united opposition from Democrats at the state and federal level. State lawmakers blocked Born Alive bills in Colorado and New Hampshire in February. On Capitol Hill, House Democrats prevented a floor vote on the measure. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) echoed Sasse's criticism.
"Like the legislation we asked Democrats to bring up in Congress, the Born Alive bill asks for nothing more than to protect the life of a child that has survived an abortion," McCarthy told the Free Beacon. "We cannot allow the devaluation of human life to continue—every child deserves the opportunity to realize their full potential."
President Trump has placed abortion at the forefront of his reelection campaign, declaring Democrats "the party of late-term abortion" at rallies. Democratic presidential hopefuls have faced questions about whether they welcome pro-life views in their own party. Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg told a pro-life Democratic voter there was no room for compromise on the party's stance on unrestricted access to abortion.
"The best I can offer is that we may disagree on that very important issue and hopefully we'll be able to partner on other issues," the former South Bend mayor said. He declined to comment for several days after the remains of 2,400 fetuses were found in the home of Ulrich Klopfer, a leading South Bend abortionist who was stripped of his license in 2016.
Klobuchar, like Buttigieg, is campaigning as a centrist alternative to progressives like Warren and Sanders. She told The View that Democrats need to take a "big tent" approach to abortion.
"There are pro-life Democrats, and they are part of our party, and I think we need to build a big tent," she said during an appearance on The View.
Sasse told the Free Beacon that if Democrats want to welcome pro-life voters, the Born Alive bill should be the first step. But Democratic presidential candidates have moved further away from the majority of Americans who support some form of restrictions on abortion.
Pro-life groups ripped Democratic lawmakers for not taking action to protect the recently born.
"It's very clear that this issue is almost like a religion to the left," Jeff Hunt, director of Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University, told the Free Beacon. "They refused guardrails for infant protections that many Americans support."
"While their presidential candidates are busy insisting that no pro-life views will be tolerated in their party, state lawmakers in Colorado are voting down bills that would save babies born alive after failed abortions and outlaw extreme late-term abortions," said Terry Schilling, executive director of the American Principles Project. "But never mind that a majority of voters across the board agree with these prohibitions—evidently the Democratic Party is so committed to abortion that they don't care what most Americans think."
Neither the Warren, Sanders, Klobuchar, nor Buttigieg campaigns responded to requests for comment.
The Senate is scheduled to vote on the Born Alive bill on Monday.