Late Monday, the United States Senate failed to muster enough votes to protect the lives of children born alive after an attempted abortion. This vote comes as one of the most important events in recent American political history—and it is simultaneously tragic and telling. This latest failure to protect human life represents the latest chapter in America’s lamentable and horrific Culture of Death – a culture driven by the pro-abortion movement.
Mike DeBonis and Felicia Sonmez covered the story for The Washington Post, reporting, “The Senate voted Monday to block consideration of a measure that would punish any doctor who fails to provide medical care to a child born alive after an attempted abortion. All but three Democrats voted against a procedural motion on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, denying it the necessary 60 votes to proceed. The final vote count was 53 in favor and 44 opposed.”
A slim majority voted in favor of the legislation while 44 senators voted against it. The number 44 demands attention—44 United States Senators voted against a bill banning infanticide. This is a chilling moment in American history.
The bill would have required health-care providers to “exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child’ as he or she would to ‘any other child born alive at the same gestational age.” The bill also provided for criminal penalties and the right of the mother to bring civil action.
Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse, the author and main sponsor of the legislation, said, “I want to ask each and every one of my colleagues whether or not we’re okay with infanticide. It is too blunt for many people in this body, but frankly, that is what we’re talking about here today… Are we a country that protects babies that are live, born outside the womb after having survived a botched abortion?” Sasse described the legislation as an “infanticide ban” that would have protected the lives of innocent newborns who survived an abortion that failed.
Monday’s vote shows the bare teeth of the pro-abortion movement and the death grip it holds upon the modern Democratic Party. The pro-abortion forces now push for radical abortion laws, which allow for abortions up to and even after a baby’s due date. They advocate for abortions in every legal circumstance and have succeeded in New York, while other states like Virginia, Rhode Island, and Illinois line up to join this sickening spiral of death.
The Christian worldview affirms the sanctity of human life at every moment, from fertilization to natural death. Thus, every abortion amounts to the murder of an unborn child. Yet, even the most radical pro-abortion lobbyists have shied away from public and eager support for late-term abortion. Now, all the limits are off. There is no line too far and no moral absolute governs the pro-abortion ideology. Their only absolute is absolute support for abortion.
Monday, only three Democrats dared to cross the aisle in support of this bill. That fact is not surprising given the states those senators represent: West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Alabama. Tellingly, all the current contenders for the Democratic nomination for President serving in the Senate fell over themselves to record their opposition to this bill banning infanticide. With the 2020 election looming on the horizon, Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Kristen Gillibrand, and Kamila Harris, all voted “No” on this bill. Each of these senators sent a clear message by their opposition—they are utterly and unreservedly sold out to the pro-abortion movement. This is the new moral vector of the Democratic Party heading into a Presidential election cycle. This is the now party unwilling to protect the lives of babies born alive.
In the floor debate Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the proposed law, “a straightforward piece of legislation to protect newborn babies.” He also indicted Democrats, arguing that they “seem to be suggesting that newborn babies’ right to life may be contingent on the circumstances surrounding their birth.” Senator McConnell rightly assessed the harrowing implications of the Democratic argument, but recently, the pro-abortion movement and its allies in Congress have continued to expunge the dignity of life from the moral compass of the American society—they have even, in recent years, opposed the Partial-Birth-Abortion-Ban Act, which prevented and outlawed the most macabre murder of an unborn baby in the womb.
What happened Monday represents a lurch forward for the Culture of Death. Indeed, the Democratic Party has aligned itself with the Planned Parenthood Federation of America—it is beholden to the moral agenda of this pro-abortion organization bent on securing unfettered access to abortions for every woman no matter the circumstance, reason, or age of the child in the womb. Leana Wen, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said, “We must call out today’s vote for what it is: a direct attack on women’s health and rights. This legislation is based on lies and a misinformation campaign, aimed at shaming women and criminalizing doctors for a practice that doesn’t exist in medicine or reality.”
This is where the arguments from the pro-abortion agenda break down and depart from any intellectual honesty or consistency. First, they argue that the practice does not exist. But if the practice does not exist, why oppose a bill that would outlaw infanticide?
The pro-abortion argument demonstrates a deadly contradiction in its moral and ethical reasoning. They argue that the practices described in this bill do not happen and that we must not outlaw it. Indeed, some of the statements against the legislation exude an unparalleled level of insanity. Senator Patty Murray of Washington described the legislation as “clearly anti-doctor, anti-woman and anti-family.” On what planet can lawmakers deem a bill that bans infanticide as “anti-family?”
Senator Murray continued, “It has no place becoming law. Its proponents claim it would make something illegal that is already illegal. [The legislation would] do nothing except help Republicans advance their goal of denying women their constitutionally protected rights.”
The Senator has erected a structure of one incompatible argument on another. If the bill set out to make something illegal that is already illegal, then why oppose the bill? If it is already illegal, then how would this law do anything to deny a woman’s right to choose? Does this practice happen, or does it not happen? Sadly, it does happen.
The opinions against Monday’s bill look less like rational arguments grounded in reality and more like Alice in Wonderland—lunacy, fantasy, and deep rabbit hole of deadly logic. Words no longer matter as pro-abortion advocates make every desperate, unfounded argument against a pro-life bill imaginable—even a bill that would have protected the life of a baby outside the womb.
Christians should note this event closely and consider the ramifications gravely. The developments over the last few weeks and days show how far the Culture of Death advances by the hour in the United States of America. Monday’s vote in the Senate is just a sign of deadly developments to follow.
Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.