Life Advocacy Briefing

March 4, 2019

Born-Alive Bill Languishes in Senate
Why Is the Born-Alive Survivors Act Needed?
Senators Speak Up / In the States / McConnell Tells It Straight
The Battle Is Joined / Senate Voting Record

Born-Alive Bill Languishes in Senate

THANKS TO THE PERSISTING, EXTRACONSTITUTIONAL ‘CLOTURE’ RULE in the US Senate, the now clearly needed Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act has stalled for the foreseeable future.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) last Monday brought forward a cloture motion to close debate on S-311 in order to bring the strongly popular measure to a vote. The procedural motion won the support of 50 Republican Senators and three Democrats. We publish the voting record at the close of this Life Advocacy Briefing. Three Republican Senators were absent but are believed to be supportive of the bill offered by Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE).

The proposal would require medical intervention and care for an infant whose birth interrupts an effort to kill the child through abortion. An earlier effort to pass the bill by unanimous consent – in the wake of intense controversy over remarks by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) explaining in measured, approving terms, how such a child is treated (or not) in such circumstances – was resisted by objection voiced by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).  

The Northam comments have stirred a national debate over infanticide in which Democratic politicians – because of their party’s extreme platform – are on woefully ineffective defense. The issue is now generally considered a likely flashpoint for the 2020 campaigns, in which the GOP will likely use the national Democrats’ abortion extremism as an issue to wedge voters back into their column.

Pres. Donald Trump used Twitter to express his reaction to the Senate vote; his remark is quoted by Family Research Council president Tony Perkins in his Feb. 26 Washington Update, which we publish near the close of this Life Advocacy Briefing.

The critical legislation could pass the Senate even in the current session – without the votes of any Democratic Senators, if need be – if the Senate were to scrap the 60-vote rule for closing debate.

Why Is the Born-Alive Survivors Act Needed?

Explanation by Penny Nance, CEO & president, Concerned Women for America

            [Opponents’] characterization of the Born-Alive bill as a “restriction on women’s rights” is grossly inaccurate and offensive. Clearly, as evidenced by the atrocities in the clinic of [West Philadelphia abortionist and convicted murderer] Kermit Gosnell and the recent interview of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, the practice of letting children die who are born alive after a late-term abortion is happening. The Center for Disease Control keeps statistics on a few states that report this – highly incomplete but enough to prove this practice is real. Doctors like Gosnell currently face no federal penalties for allowing a child to die or even killing a child after a botched abortion.

            A 2002 law made this practice illegal, but it lacks the enforcement the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act provides. A law with no penalties or enforcement is just ink on a page. This bill gives necessary teeth to existing law and allows women to pursue legal action against doctors after a botched abortion.

Senators Speak Up

  • Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), sponsor, in debate quoted by LifeSiteNews: “This bill doesn’t have anything to do with Roe v. Wade. This bill is about something else. What this bill does is try to secure basic rights, equal rights for babies that are born and are outside the womb. Today’s vote is about whether or not you want to take the side of people like Virginia’s disgraced governor, Ralph Northam. Northam made clear that a baby born alive during an abortion could be killed if that’s what the parents decided to do after a debate. … There could be a discussion about whether or not you throw that little baby into the trash can. … Gov. Northam is disgraceful for a whole host of reasons, but unlike some other people, he actually told the truth about what he wants. He wants a society where some people count more than others, and other people are worth less than others.”
  • Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) in Senate debate quoted by LifeSiteNews: “What if an abortion is botched and instead of the child being killed in the womb they’re actually delivered? … Now a child is on the table crying, pink skin, ten fingers and toes moving – what happens now? That’s the question of this bill.”
  • Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) in debate quoted by LifeSiteNews: “It is time for our country to demand that the victims of this abhorrent, inhumane treatment be afforded their rights and the perpetrators be held accountable. Speaking with one clear voice, we must say that every human being is made in the image of God and is therefore in possession of dignity and worth that cannot be displaced or dispossessed. … Anything short of this unambiguous declaration would be a tremendous disservice to our children and fatally undermine the values of our society that we claim to uphold. While the debate surrounding abortion has engulfed this country for decades, the goalposts are now being shifted. Reproductive autonomy, we are now told, must include the ability and choice to end the life of a baby who survives an attempted abortion.”
  • Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), from a interview: “Itseems like we could all – 100% of Americans – agree that a baby born alive needs to be taken care of and protected and cared for under the Hippocratic Oath, like any other human being. So it’s just stunning to me that the so-called ‘pro-choice’ movement in the US has gotten that much of a sway over virtually every member of the Democratic Party of the United States Congress. … I think the public is more and more shocked at what they’re hearing, such as the comments by Gov. Ralph Northam (D-VA), when he basically said a child born alive would be sort of set aside and kept comfortable and then a discussion would ensue. I think that moved the public opinion needle – and I hope it did. … It used to be that the baby’s first picture would be the first thing on the refrigerator – now it’s the ultrasound. Science is our ally here; science is telling the truth, and I hope more and more people listen. If we’ve gotten to the point [where] an acceptable social position in this country is basically infanticide, then we’ve crossed a boundary that I just don’t want to think about.’”
  • Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), in an opinion piece for Fox News: “There should be nothing controversial about voting to give babies born as a result of a failed abortion the same degree of medical care given to those born at the same stage of a pregnancy. … It should have been an easy vote for every Member of the Senate, but on Monday night, many Democrats demonstrated that their pro-choice stance also requires them to support infanticide. … Sadly, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s recent comments advocating infanticide clearly framed the Democrats’ radical agenda. Their push to abort children reveals a hardened inner core that shocks the conscience.”
  • Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) in Senate debate quoted by LifeSiteNews: “It’s absolutely absurd that we’re having to decide whether to give human babies the level of protection under federal law that we give to animals. … Is it the position of the Democratic Party that a border wall is immoral but not infanticide? … The bill that we’re voting on today would give federal enforcement ‘teeth,’ and it would be teeth nationwide to the 2002 ‘Born-Alive’ law, so that whether an infant is born alive in Montana or Massachusetts, whether in a hospital or an abortion clinic, they would be guaranteed the same protection and level of care. Is that asking too much? By contrast, consider that federal law provides criminal penalties of thousands of dollars in fines and even imprisonment if you would harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, track, capture or collect any baby marine turtle, a baby bald eagle or any baby of an endangered species. … Have we become so numb as a nation that we cannot realize that we are talking about a baby here? A ‘Yes’ vote today is to uphold the bare minimum of any civilized society. A ‘No’ vote is to deny protection from barbaric violence to the most vulnerable among us: an innocent little baby. You can either stand with Gov. Northam for infanticide or you can protect the most vulnerable among us.”

In the States

  • KENTUCKY LEGISLATIVE ACTION includes mid-February House passage of a bill to ban nearly all abortions in the event Roe v. Wade is overturned, while the Senate has passed the Heartbeat Bill. Each house is expected now to take up the other’s measure. Regrettably, the House bill as of now contains exceptions for killing preborn babies conceived during a sex crime.
  • ARKANSAS GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R) HAS SIGNED legislation to ban abortions in the event Roe v. Wade is overturned. The Human Life Protection Act, according to Live Action’s Laura Nicole, “would ban almost all abortion except [on] ‘a pregnant woman whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness or physical injury.’” Such a “trigger law,” notes Ms. Nicole, “is immune to legal challenge since it has no immediate effect. Currently,” she writes, “Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota and South Dakota have passed such laws, while similar laws are under consideration in Kentucky and Tennessee.” According to the Live Action report, the new Arkansas law creates “a felony punishable by up to $100,000 or up to 10 years in prison.” The law, notes Ms. Nicole, concludes with this exhortation: “‘The State of Arkansas urgently pleads with the United States Supreme Court to do the right thing, as they did in one of their greatest cases, Brown v. Board of Education, which overturned a 58-year-old precedent of the United States, and reverse, cancel, overturn and annul Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.’”
  • VERMONT LAWMAKERS ARE TAKING THE OPPOSITE APPROACH, advancing in the House “an abortion bill that pro-lifers are calling possibly the most extreme in the nation,” writes Calvin Freiburger for, and “rejecting numerous Republican amendments meant to moderate its effects.”

McConnell Tells It Straight

Feb. 26, 2019, remarks to the Senate by Majority Leader McConnell following failure of the S-311 cloture motion

            Yesterday, the Senate had an opportunity to affirm our commitment to the dignity of human life. We had a chance to state plainly that newborn babies who happen to have survived an abortion are entitled to the same legal protections and professional care as other newborns. In all honesty, the fact that this legislation even needed to be written is a sad reminder of the degree to which our society is at risk of losing some crucial moral bearings. And the fact that the United States Senate could not even vote to advance this bill?  That is beyond dismaying.

            The legislation was silent on the abortion issue. All it would have done was affirm the rights of these newborn babies. But apparently, even that was a bridge too far. Not just for the far-left fringe – not any more – but now, a bridge too far for the vast majority of our Democratic colleagues right here in the Senate.

            We are no longer dealing with a normal, traditional Democratic Party. We are looking at a party that has been dragged so far to the Left it would have been unrecognizable to folks just a few years ago. In 1996, Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan condemned partial-birth abortion by comparing it to infanticide. That was a distinguished, mainstream Democratic Senator from New York about 20 years ago.

            And today? Today 94% of Senate Democrats could not even vote to protect babies after they’re born. And the only explanations they could offer were bizarre euphemisms and vague references to issues that have no bearing once a child has already been born alive. So it was a sorry display. But I can say this – this fight is not over. Republicans will not let this stunning extremism from our Democratic colleagues be the last word on this subject.

The Battle Is Joined

Feb. 26, 2019, Washington Update by Family Research Council president Tony Perkins

            We all saw it coming. But expecting yesterday’s vote didn’t make watching it any less horrifying. If we’re being honest, most of us still held out hope that we lived in a country where some truths were non-negotiable. Last night on the Senate floor, we saw with gut-wrenching clarity what we really are: a nation where 44 of our most powerful men and women would order America to back away from a table where struggling newborns cry out for help. It was the birth of a new extreme: Democrats for infanticide.

            With 30 of their House colleagues looking on, Senate Republicans begged their colleagues to consider what this debate was really about. “I know a lot of opponents of this bill sincerely believe the talking points that they read from their staffs,” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) said. “We’ve heard speech after speech after speech that have nothing to do with what’s actually in this bill. I urge my colleagues to picture a baby that’s already been born, that’s outside the womb gasping for air. That’s the only thing that today’s vote is actually about. We’re talking about babies that have already been born. … We’re not talking about Roe v. Wade.”

            But there’s a reason that Democrats are lying about the legislation. “Although the bill doesn’t restrict abortion rights, it brings into crystal-clear focus the irrationality of the pro-abortion position,” National Review Online’s Alexandra DeSanctis explains. “If those who support abortion concede that perhaps there is something wrong with permitting an infant to die the moment after birth if it was meant to have been aborted one minute earlier, suddenly the question becomes, ‘Why is it acceptable to perform that abortion one minute earlier?’”

            So Democrats marched to the floor, one after another, parroting the helpful headlines from their media friends to obscure what the debate was truly about. “Republicans need to stop wasting time on political games and legislation aimed at rolling back women’s constitutionally protected rights,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) fumed. But negligent homicide isn’t abortion. Taking the life of a newborn baby that could grow up in a loving family isn’t abortion. The only reason Sen. Sasse even introduced this bill, DeSanctis reminds everyone, is because Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) endorsed infanticide as a legitimate form of health care! “When they opposed the bill today, Democrats took the exact same line that Northam did.”

            Like a lot of liberals, Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) insisted that saving a baby’s life is an “attack on women’s rights.” What she won’t say is the truth – that the only rights being violated are the baby girls’ who will never have a chance to grow into women under her kind of radicalism. Even Pres. Trump had a hard time believing the ground liberals were defending. “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. This will be remembered as one of the most shocking votes in the history of Congress. If there is one thing we should all agree on, it’s protecting the lives of innocent babies.”

            These are not “choices” writhing on a metal table. They’re not “medical options” being thrown away in a heap of dirty towels. These are innocent human beings, as real as any son or daughter smiling from the picture frames in Senate offices. But in a party beholden to a powerful abortion lobby, only three Democrats – Senators Joe Manchin (WV), Doug Jones (AL) and Bob Casey (PA) – had the moral courage to say that infanticide is wrong. The others, including all five Democratic 2020 hopefuls, are so committed to killing that they’ll allow it after birth.

            So much for the moral high ground of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) – the woman who just last year insisted, “We cannot tolerate a society and live in a country with any level of pride when our babies are being slaughtered.” Or Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), who promised to “build a country where no one is forgotten and no one is left behind.” “A great nation is judged,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) warned, “by how it treats the most vulnerable.” A great party will be judged, too. Maybe not this week or this year, but there will be a day when 44 US senators will have to answer for the choice they’ve made.

            In the meantime, Democrats have lost where it matters – in the hearts and minds of Americans. The winds of change are blowing across this country, where 80% have made it clear: This party doesn’t speak for us. In the four weeks since Democrats cheered the deaths of innocent babies in New York, Americans finally understood the horrors of what they stand for. And the masses have started walking away. … This is far from over. This is truly a moment of choosing for the nation. Similar to the choice Moses put before the children of Israel, “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.” (Deut. 30:19)

Senate Voting Record

S-311 – Cloture motion to end debate – Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act – Feb. 25, 2019 – Failed – 53-44 (needing 60) (Democrats in italics; “Independent” marked “I”)

Voting “yes” / pro-Life: Jones & Shelby/AL, Sullivan/AK, McSally/AZ, Boozman & Cotton/AR, Gardner/CO, Rubio & Scott/FL, Isakson & Perdue/GA, Crapo & Risch/ID,  Braun & Young/IN, Ernst & Grassley/IA, Moran & Roberts/KS, McConnell & Paul/KY, Cassidy & Kennedy/LA, Collins/ME, Hyde-Smith & Wicker/MS, Blunt & Hawley/MO, Daines/MT, Fischer & Sasse/NE, Burr & Tillis/NC, Hoeven/ND, Portman/OH, Inhofe & Lankford/OK, Casey & Toomey/PA, Graham/SC, Rounds & Thune/SD, Alexander & Blackburn/TN, Cornyn & Cruz/TX, Lee & Romney/UT, Capito & Manchin/WV, Johnson/WI, Barrasso & Enzi/WY.

Voting “no” / anti-Life: Sinema/AZ, Feinstein & Harris/CA, Bennet/CO, Blumenthal & Murphy/CT, Carper & Coons/DE, Hirono & Schatz/HI, Duckworth & Durbin/IL, King(I)/ME, Cardin & VanHollen/MD), Markey & Warren/MA, Peters & Stabenow/MI, Klobuchar & Smith/MN, Tester/MT, Cortez-Masto & Rosen/NV, Hassan & Shaheen/NH, Booker & Menendez/NJ, Heinrich & Udall/NM, Gillibrand & Schumer/NY, Brown/OH, Merkley & Wyden/OR, Reed & Whitehouse/RI, Leahy & Sanders/VT, Kaine & Warner/VA, Cantwell & Murray/WA, Baldwin/WI.

Not voting: Murkowski/AK, Cramer/ND, Scott/SC.