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Catholic News ServiceFebruary 26, 2019
Courtesy iStock

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Senate in an evening vote Feb. 25 failed to pass a measure sponsored by Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska, to require that babies born alive after an abortion be given medical attention and "the same protection of law as any newborn."

The Born-Alive Survivors Protection Act failed in a 53-44 vote. Sixty votes were needed for passage of the measure, which Sasse's press office said was co-sponsored by half the Senate.

"I want to ask each and every one of my colleagues whether we're OK with infanticide," Sasse said ahead of the vote. "This language is blunt. I recognize that and it's too blunt for many people in this body. But frankly, that is what we're talking about here today. Infanticide is what the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act is actually about."

Protecting babies who "are alive, born outside the womb after having survived a botched abortion ... is what this is about," he said.

Kristan Hawkins, president for Students for Life of America, called Sasse's bill "the bare minimum standard for valuing infant life, as everyone should be able to look at a baby born during an abortion and understand that a humane response is required."

"Too many important votes are forgotten, but this one won't be," she said in a statement issued after the vote. "These kinds of tactics in which a win is a loss can disillusion voters, but allowing infants to die after being born alive will rally pro-life Americans when it counts."

On Feb. 4, Sasse had called for unanimous consent on his Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. "Everyone in the Senate ought to be able to say unequivocally that killing that little baby is wrong. This doesn't take any political courage," he said from the floor.

Kristan Hawkins, president for Students for Life of America, called Sasse's bill the bare minimum standard for valuing infant life, as everyone should be able to look at a baby born during an abortion and understand that a humane response is required.

In response, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, blocked unanimous consent by objecting to the bill.

The next day the chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities called it "unconscionable" that the U.S. Senate failed to "unanimously declare to the nation that infanticide is objectively wrong."

"No newborn should be left to suffer or die without medical care. It is barbaric and merciless to leave these vulnerable infants without any care or rights," Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, said in a Feb. 5 statement.

After Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said Feb. 14 that he was scheduling a roll-call vote for Feb. 25, Sasse said he was thankful, because then "every American can know where their senator stands on the issue of infanticide."

"A lot of senators spend a lot of time telling people how they fight for the little guy," Sasse said in a Feb. 14 statement. "Well, here's the chance for them to prove it. We're going to have a vote on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act and everyone is going to have to put their name by their vote.

"It's cowardly for a politician to say they'll fight for the little guy but only if the little guy isn't an actual seven-pound baby who's fighting for life. It shouldn't be hard to protect newborn babies -- let's pass this legislation."

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