Charles C. Camosy: The Abortion Survivors Protection Act Vote Shows How Both Parties Are Unserious

Anti-abortion activists march toward the U.S. Supreme Court during the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Yesterday (Feb. 25), Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse’s Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which would have established punishments for doctors for refusing medical care to any living child they deliver, was defeated in the Senate 53-44, with only three Democrats voting for the bill.

To understand why this was precisely the result the Republicans were looking for, some context:

The Born Alive Infants Protection Act, passed in 2002, already addresses the issue targeted by Sasse’s. That law states that a newborn child, even if it is one who survived a failed abortion, is a person with full rights. The problem was that it left a legal gray area between active killing and refusing typical medical treatment, in that it didn’t provide penalties for physicians who don’t provide typical medical care for a baby born alive after an abortion.

Sasse’s bill would have cleared up that gray area by saying that all newborns deserve the same medical treatment, whether they were targeted for abortion or not.

Sen. Ben Sasse speaks at the 2015 Conservative
Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. Photo by
Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons

If that’s what the Republicans wanted, it is more than reasonable for Sasse to have pushed his bill. We know babies sometimes survive abortion attempts and nurses have witnessed medical teams aim at their deaths by refusing them typical medical care. In the infamous Baby Doe case of 1982, a couple and their doctor decided to aim at the death of their child with Down syndrome by refusing typical medical care. The case set off a cultural and moral revolution in the treatment of newborns that resulted in far more ethical and legal oversight of physicians and parents making such decisions.

Recently, Democrats in Virginia showed how confused their party’s positions on “reproductive health” are on these matters. Though they later walked back their statements, Virginia Delegate Kathy Tran and the state’s governor, Ralph Northam, defended a bill that would have relaxed rules about late-term abortions by apparently approving of abortions while a woman is in labor — or, in the case of the governor, seeming to suggest that a fetus with severe abnormalities could be allowed to die after being delivered. After an uproar from constituents, Northam said he had been misquoted. (The bill was later tabled.)

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Source: Religion News Service

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