Democrats Block the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Bill

For the third year in a row, Senate Democrats have blocked a bill that would require doctors to care for newborn infants who survive an attempted abortion procedure.

Late Thursday night, the Senate voted on an amendment from Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) containing his Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which he has introduced each year since 2019.

Every time the legislation has come to the floor, it has received uniform support from Republicans, as well as a few votes from Democrats. Because the GOP has not had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate — and, this year, because Democrats hold a razor-thin Senate majority — the bill has never overcome the opposition of most Senate Democrats.

This year’s vote was no exception. Every Republican voted in favor of the bill, including Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, who missed last year’s vote. Two Democratic senators, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Pennsylvania’s Bob Casey Jr., also voted to support it.

But the rest of the Democratic caucus voted against it, blocking the born-alive bill for the third year in a row. Because the vote took place so early this session, during a quick series of votes all in one evening, there was less lead-up time and therefore less debate over the bill than there had been the previous two years.

In both 2019 and 2020, Democrats who blocked the bill defended their votes in floor speeches, arguing that it is a harmful restriction on abortion. In fact, the bill doesn’t place a single limit on abortion procedures. Instead, it requires doctors to give “the same degree” of care to newborns who survive abortion that “any other child born alive at the same gestational age” would receive.

While Planned Parenthood and other abortion-advocacy groups allege that the born-alive bill compels doctors to provide unnecessary care to sick newborns, in reality it prescribes no specific kind of medical care. The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act merely says that the medical care should be appropriate for the child’s age and health condition; the specifics are left up to the doctor’s judgment.