Senate gets companion for ‘born alive’ protections bill

Senate gets companion for ‘born alive’ protections bill

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) is planning to introduce a bill Monday that imposes criminal penalties on doctors who mishandle live-birth abortions, one day after the same language was approved by the House.

The freshman senator’s legislation will mirror the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which was passed the House on Friday. Under the legislation, any doctor who fails to give “appropriate care” to an infant born during an abortion can be sentenced to five years in prison.

"If this isn't the most non-controversial sentence in American politics, it's time to check our national conscience,” Sasse wrote in a statement Friday. “I'm grateful that a bipartisan majority of the House stood up for babies and I look forward to introducing companion legislation in the Senate next week.”

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It is the first companion bill to the House legislation authored by vocal abortion opponent Rep. Trent FranksHarold (Trent) Trent FranksArizona New Members 2019 Cook shifts 8 House races toward Dems Freedom Caucus members see openings in leadership MORE (R-Ariz.), Sasse's spokesman confirmed.

Franks has long called for stronger protections for survivors of abortion; the cause has also been championed by anti-abortion-rights groups like Susan B. Anthony’s List.

That group, along with several congressional Republicans, have seized on Democrats' opposition to the bill as evidence that they are “wedded to the idea of abortion on-demand.”

“Only five Democrats — five out of 188 — could bring themselves to vote to protect a baby who survived a failed abortion. Where is the compassion and concern for ‘the little guy,’ the abortion survivor, whose heart is beating and alive?” the group’s spokeswoman, Mallory Quigley, wrote in a statement.

“When you saw the president come out yesterday and say he would veto this bill, how extreme can someone be?” House majority whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said of the House legislation on the floor Friday. “This should be a place where we can all come together.”

Democrats have said the proposed changes to the Born-Alive bill are overly broad, and are intended to intimidate abortion providers out of practice.

“It is already illegal to fail to provide care to an infant born alive,” Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) said on the floor Friday. “What this bill does is to vilify abortion providers.”

The legislation received a vote on Friday along with another bill to freeze funding for Planned Parenthood. Both bills were introduced this week as part of the House GOP leaders’ strategy to avoid a government shutdown over the defunding campaign against Planned Parenthood.