By Ed Mechmann
Editor’s note. This is excerpted from the “Stepping Out of the Boat” blog Mr. Mechmann writes for the Archdiocese of New York.
On Monday, the United States Senate couldn’t muster enough votes to pass a bill banning infanticide. Yes, you read that correctly. A practice that in a civilized society would be unthinkable has become the latest bastion of pro-abortion dogma.
Here’s what happened. The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (S.311) was brought to the floor of the Senate by its sponsor, Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska. Because of the procedural rules of the Senate, it needed 60 votes to close debate (to end a purely theoretical filibuster). Everyone understood that this was not just a procedural vote, but was really a substantive vote on the bill itself. So a “yes” vote was to ban infanticide, and a “no” vote was against it.
In a normal world, a bill like this would pass unanimously. But that’s not the world we live in. Instead, the bill only got 53 votes. Every Democrat except three voted against it.
It’s particularly interesting to note what some of the Democrats said about the bill. Here’s Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii: “That is the actual intent of this bill, reducing access to safe abortion care would threaten the health of women in Hawaii”.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire called the bill “the latest salvo in the far-right wing assault on a woman’s constitutionally protected right to an abortion”.
Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia said that the bill is unnecessary since there’s already a federal Born-Alive Infant Protection Act.
And our own inimitable Sen. Chuck Schumer (who is also the Minority Leader) said that the bill “is carefully crafted to target, intimidate, and shut down reproductive health care providers.”
Strikingly, none of the Senate Democrats gave even passing recognition that what we are talking about is a living, breathing human being who has already survived the abortion and is completely outside of her mother’s body. She is at a very vulnerable state in life, completely dependent on others for the means to continue living. Instead of showing even a modicum of compassion, they have completely dehumanized that baby, all in defense of an unlimited right to an abortion. Correction — an unlimited guarantee of a dead baby.
It never ceases to amaze me to see the amount of ignorance, misinformation, and duplicity that comes out of the mouths of public officials. Let’s start with looking at the key parts of what the bill actually says:
§ 1532. Requirements pertaining to born-alive abortion survivors
“(a) Requirements for health care practitioners.—In the case of an abortion or attempted abortion that results in a child born alive:
“(1) DEGREE OF CARE REQUIRED; IMMEDIATE ADMISSION TO A HOSPITAL.—Any health care practitioner present at the time the child is born alive shall—
“(A) exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as a reasonably diligent and conscientious health care practitioner would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age; and
“(B) following the exercise of skill, care, and diligence required under subparagraph (A), ensure that the child born alive is immediately transported and admitted to a hospital.
So it explicitly states that it only applies if a baby is born alive and the abortion is over. All it requires is that the doctor give the baby ordinary health care, the same care that would be given to any other patient.
Perhaps I’m blind, but I’m not seeing anything “carefully crafted” to have any effect whatsoever on the health of the mother, access to abortion, intimidating abortionists, or shutting down clinics. Only through the bizarre lens of abortion ideology can anyone see such things. …
And here’s the thing that tells us a lot about where we are in our country, and where the Democratic Party has gone. The Born-Alive Infant Protection Act passed both houses of Congress in 2002 virtually without opposition. It passed the House by voice vote and in the Senate by unanimous consent. Obviously, a lot has changed since then. Banning infanticide is no longer something on which there is a political consensus. That’s how far the Culture of Death has advanced.
One good thing may be coming from all of this. The abortion extremism that we’re seeing in actions like this, along with the passage of the New York abortion expansion bill and the movement on similar bills, is starting to have a positive effect on the culture. A new poll from Marist College, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, shows that there has been an increase in the number of people who call themselves “pro-life”. The poll also showed that the vast majority of Americans (71%) oppose late-term abortions, including majorities of Democrats and independents, and that only 18% believe that abortion should be legal up until birth.
The poll didn’t ask how many people thought that babies born accidentally after an abortion should be left to die without receiving basic health care — maybe because until a few weeks ago it was unthinkable that anyone would believe that. Not only is it no longer unthinkable, it’s now the law in New York and the pro-abortion movement is obviously fully committed to making it legal everywhere.
The unthinkable has become the new pro-abortion dogma.