US Senate fails to advance born alive, pain capable child protections

The U.S. Senate failed Feb. 25 to approve protections for unborn babies late in their mothers’ pregnancies and newborns who survive abortions.

Supporters of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act fell short in attempts to bring the proposals to the Senate floor.

The pain-capable bill would have banned abortions on babies 20 weeks or more after fertilization based on scientific evidence that a child in the womb can experience pain by that point in gestation. The born-alive bill requires doctors to provide standard medical care to newborn infants who survive abortion procedures.

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., lead sponsor of the born-alive bill said the bill was “not about abortion.”

“The bill we’re voting on doesn’t change anyone’s access to abortion. It doesn’t have anything to do with Roe v. Wade. It is about babies that are already born,” Sasse said.

The bill affirms that a child who survives an abortion or attempted abortion is a “legal person” deserving protection and mandates a health-care provider give the same degree of care offered “any other baby born alive at the same gestational age.”

Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore said, “It ought to be a national scandal that the United States Senate failed to advance either of these basic and common-sense bills that would protect human life.

“This is an awful government failure that multiple elected officials chose to neglect the needs of vulnerable children to protect the abortion industry,” said Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “Our work to defend human dignity is a long-term effort, and we will continue forward with diligence and in prayer for the day that every life is valued.”

Advocates for the pain-capable ban — sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a Southern Baptist — point out the United States remains among only seven countries in the world that permit elective abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The other six from among 198 countries are Canada, China, Netherlands, North Korea, Singapore and Vietnam, according to the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute.

While efforts at the federal level have been unsuccessful, 16 states, including Alabama, have enacted pain-capable abortion bans based on its model, according to the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC).

Similar federal legislation gained bipartisan approval in 2002. The Senate passed the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act by unanimous consent, and the House of Representatives approved it by voice vote. The measure, signed into law by President George W. Bush, clarified a newborn child — “at any stage of development” and fully outside the womb — is a person to be protected under federal law.

The 2002 law does not adequately protect children who survive an abortion, supporters of the latest proposal contend. (BP, TAB)