Getting the Party of Infanticide on the Record

Democrats have always been the party of abortion. For a while, the mantra was “safe, legal and rare.” But in the era of the progressive Left, they have turned that slogan on its head. As of last Monday, Senate Democrats have confirmed that their party is now for unrestricted, unregulated, and unlimited abortion.

Last week, 44 Senate Democrats voted against legislation that would have required doctors to give the same care to infants who survived abortion procedures as they would give to any other infant. So radical is this new Democratic Party that 44 of them in the “world’s greatest deliberative body” would not even consider protecting a baby who, far from being in utero, has kicked and screamed its way into the world.

Rather, they hid behind unsubstantiated claims that allowing unwanted infants to die after birth somehow constitutes a form of women’s health care. A complicit media allowed them to get away with this overt lie, never challenging the fact that women’s health care has nothing to do with living, breathing, fully delivered babies.

Moreover, nothing in the bill would limit access to abortion or regulates its methods. It doesn’t mandate particular types of care for infants and leaves the medical specifics to the judgment of the physician. And the bill expressly limits prosecutions of women involved in the failed abortion attempt.

It also has nothing to do with “late-term abortions being incredibly rare,” another charge Democrats tried to hide behind. First, late-term abortions aren’t really so rare—there were more than 5,000 of them in 2018. Second, mothers do not seek them for problems of fetal abnormality or their own health. And, again, because it can’t be underscored enough, the protections considered by the Senate applied solely to babies who are born.

In 2017, 11 infants were born alive in Florida following an abortion. In Arizona, 10, and in Minnesota, three. The abortionist Kermit Gosnell is currently serving three life sentences in Pennsylvania for the first-degree murder of three infants born alive after failed abortion attempts (as well as involuntary manslaughter for the death of a mother undergoing an abortion in his Philadelphia clinic).

The comments of Virginia’s Democrat Governor Ralph Northam are what triggered this Senate vote. Northam accidentally told the truth about abortion, and his words illuminate exactly what the progressive left is willing to abide, and even champion:

If a mother is in labor . . . the infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and mother.

As former U.S. Senator Jim DeMint put it in a call for Northam’s resignation, “[Northam] didn’t pretend it was about the health of the mother. He didn’t call the child a ‘fetus,’ he said ‘infant’ because he knows they are fully human. He just doesn’t care.”

As it turns out, neither do Senate Democrats.

By the way, Ralph Northam remains in office. He has attempted to clarify his comments after they sparked a national revulsion, but he has not retracted them.

The State of the Pro-Life Movement
I’ve written before about the listless state of the pro-life movement on Capitol Hill, a sentiment summarized by the fact that, in two years of unified GOP control of the government, congressional Republicans couldn’t manage a single vote to defund Planned Parenthood.

But the sheer horror of Northam’s comments mercifully has injected some new energy. Through the efforts of pro-life advocacy groups and Republican senators, notably Ben Sasse of Nebraska, the issue was not allowed to fade into obscurity. (As it has in the past—most recently in 2015, when videos surfaced of Planned Parenthood employees trafficking in baby parts. Conservatives agitated for a vote to defund the organization. They were told to be satisfied with a few hearings, which resulted in no action.)

Rather, the unified energies of Republican senators culminated with a vote on the Senate floor—an increasingly difficult outcome to achieve in this locked-down Senate. Their efforts should be applauded.

But even more important is where the pro-life movement goes from here. We’ve learned some important lessons.

First, we know these issues shake the earth. A Marist poll taken shortly after Northam’s comments were released showed a massive and unprecedented 17-point shift in voters who previously identified themselves as “pro-choice,” shifting their designation to pro-life. That is a remarkable swing in a historically stable identification demographic, one that can undoubtedly be linked to exposing the grotesque details about what an abortion actually is.

These issues may not vex Republicans in Congress as much as they used to, but they set the grassroots on fire. From a purely political standpoint, forcing Democrats to own the reality of their pro-abortion, pro-infanticide positions plays well for the GOP.

The Senate easily could take more votes on the more horrific aspects of abortion—trafficking in aborted baby parts, parental consent for minors, or using aborted babies for research. Even conscience protections for medical providers is a common-sense vote which draws a bright line between freedom of belief, and those who prize abortion so much they think it should be compelled.

But, to do this requires the GOP leadership to treat these issues seriously. While the Born Alive vote was a significant accomplishment, it was not given the treatment afforded to priority issues in the Senate. It was scheduled on a Monday evening, as senators were returning to Washington. Monday night votes are well-known as “bed-check” votes—that is, votes the Senate leadership isn’t particularly worried about passing, because they know many senators may miss the vote.

Indeed, Senators Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) both missed the vote due to a flight delays—a common occurrence for Monday evening votes, and one that could have been avoided by scheduling the vote mid-week. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) was also inexplicably absent.

Moreover, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not move to reconsider the vote after it failed, meaning he does not intend to bring up the Born Alive bill again. This is a departure in treatment from what priority legislation has received this year. In January, McConnell reconsidered a Middle East security bill no fewer than four times, bringing it to the floor again and again until it achieved the necessary 60 votes. This is a tactic he has available to him on pro-life legislation as well.

This is not to downplay the significance of Monday’s vote. Getting 44 Democrats on the record in support of infanticide is the clarity that the pro-life movement—and the country—needs to fully understand what is at stake.

The momentum should not be wasted.

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Photo Credit: Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

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About Rachel Bovard

Rachel Bovard is senior director of policy at the Conservative Partnership Institute and Senior Advisor to the Internet Accountability Project. Beginning in 2006, she served in both the House and Senate in various roles including as legislative director for Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and policy director for the Senate Steering Committee under the successive chairmanships of Senator Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) and Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), where she advised Committee members on strategy related to floor procedure and policy matters. In the House, she worked as senior legislative assistant to Congressman Donald Manzullo (R-Il.), and Congressman Ted Poe (R-Texas). She is the former director of policy services for the Heritage Foundation. Follow her on Twitter at @RachelBovard.