WAPO — 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.
The bill would require a health-care practitioner 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 includes criminal penalties, a right of civil action for an affected mother and a mandatory reporting requirement for other health providers.
Opponents of the bill argued that it represented an unjustified attack on abortion rights, preventing doctors from exercising their best medical judgment and exposing them to possible lawsuits or prosecution.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has sought to put Democrats — and 2020 candidates in particular — on the record on the issue after recent comments made by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D). McConnell also plans to hold a vote in the coming weeks on the Green New Deal climate change legislation as he has cast the Democrats as extreme.
In remarks on the Senate floor ahead of Monday’s vote, McConnell described the measure as “a straightforward piece of legislation to protect newborn babies.” Democrats, he argued, “seem to be suggesting that newborn babies’ right to life may be contingent on the circumstances surrounding their birth.”