The “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” and the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act” failed to meet the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture in the Senate on Tuesday, largely due to nearly unanimous Democratic opposition.
The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), would have banned abortions after 20 weeks based on scientific evidence that a child in the womb can experience pain that far into gestation. Graham noted that the U.S. remains only one of seven countries that permit elective abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The other six are Canada, China, the Netherlands, North Korea, Singapore and Vietnam.
“It’s hard to believe that, in 21st century America, the life of a baby more than halfway through pregnancy is considered up for debate, but it’s true,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List.
The bill fell seven votes short, with just two Democrats, Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Robert Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania, voting for the measure. Two Republicans—Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine—opposed it, making the final tally 53-44. Sens. Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobachar and Elizabeth Warren were absent, preparing for Tuesday’s South Carolina Democratic debate.
Meanwhile, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act would have required treatment for babies born alive after botched abortions.
“I urge my colleagues to picture a baby that’s already been born, that’s outside the womb grasping for air,” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska), sponsor of the bill, said before the vote. “… We’re talking about babies that have already been born. Nothing in this bill touches abortion access.
“If we’re hemming and hawing about whether it’s OK to let children die of neglect, we know we’ve lost part of our soul,” he added.
Senators voted 56-41 in support of the bill, with three Democrats—Casey of Pennsylvania, Doug Jones of Alabama and West Virginia’s Manchin—voting alongside every Republican except Murkowski and Collins. But it was still four votes short of the 60 needed to move the legislation forward.
“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 life,” said Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The Trump Administration had released a Statement of Administration Policy in support of both bills and signaled that the president would have signed the bills into law had they made it to his desk.
“Our most helpless Americans cannot protect themselves from pain or from those who would callously allow them to die,” the statement read. “The government, therefore, has a compelling responsibility to defend the rights and interests of these babies, including to be free from excruciating or unnecessary pain. All babies have the same dignity. They should not have to endure pain, and they should receive critical life-saving care regardless of whether they are born in a hospital, at home, or in an abortion clinic.”
Abortion-friendly Democrats will have to answer for voting against these measures, warned Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life.
“Tragically, pro-abortion Democrats in the Senate are beholden to pro-abortion groups. Shame on pro-abortion Democrats for not being willing to even protect living babies that survive abortion or to protect late-term babies who feel the excruciating pain of abortion. Their constituents will want to know why they are willing to allow these horrors to continue.”
Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, sponsor of the Pain-Capable bill, told news outlets following the vote that he plans to keep bringing it up each session until it passes.