February 25, 2020
“My colleagues can vote up or down, but they can’t pretend that they don’t know the stakes of what we're talking about.”
U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, the lead sponsor of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, spoke on the Senate floor ahead of today’s vote on the bill. Although the legislation received a bipartisan majority of the Senate, it failed to break a filibuster driven by Planned Parenthood’s misinformation campaign. The final roll call vote was 56-41 with 3 Democrats joining Republicans in favor of the legislation.
Video of Sasse’s speech is available here or by clicking on the image above
Full transcript of the Senator’s remarks below:
Thank you. Madam President, this afternoon we are going to vote on the simplest bill in the history of the United States Senate. It's the simplest bill we've ever considered here. It says that if a newborn baby survives an abortion, she deserves medical care. That's the bill. That's it.
Sadly, a lot of Senators are going to come the floor, and they're going to read - or they're planning to read, I hope they reconsider - but they're planning to read talking points that we're written for them by Planned Parenthood, and they're going to talk about a whole bunch of stuff that that doesn't have anything to do with the bill that we actually have before us. Senators are going to muddy the issue and, sadly, too many in the press are going to report with headlines like “abortion restrictions” and with anti-science jargon like a “fetus that was born.” That was an actual portion of a headline this morning: "A fetus that was born."
Sadly, a lot of folks seem determined to look the other way.
Looking the other way, from the issue that we're considering today in this body, shouldn't be an option. So, let’s start with four, straight undeniable facts. Four simple facts:
First, federal law does not criminalize the denial of care to newborn babies that survive abortions. Federal law does not criminalize the denial of care to newborn babies that survive abortions.
Second, we know that babies sometimes survive abortions, and the data backs that up. If Senators don’t like this inconvenient fact, they can take it up with the CDC and the states that have mandatory reporting about babies that survive abortions.
Third, this bill – the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act – simply says that if a baby survives an abortion she should get the same degree of medical care that any other baby would get at the same gestational stage. Really important. Same care that would be provided to any other baby at the same gestational stage. It’s a short bill, and I know my colleagues are busy, but all of them could read the bill. So instead of coming to the floor and reciting pre-packaged talking points that Planned Parenthood wrote for you, take a few minutes and actually read the bill and you'll find that your talking points don't match up with the actual bill that you're called to vote on today.
Those are the facts. And finally, this is not about abortion. My colleague, the senior Senator from South Carolina, the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has a really important piece of legislation that he's going to speak on in a moment, and I'm going to support his legislation. It is a really important pro-life piece of legislation. I'm in favor of it. But my legislation, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, is not actually about abortion. It's about babies that have already survived a botched abortion. My legislation is not about Roe v. Wade. It's about what happens after a baby is already born when an abortion failed to accomplish the purpose it had - the sad purpose in my view - But the purpose it had to terminate that pregnancy.
This is about the babies that have already been born. This is about whether that baby, who has survived the abortion, and is now laying on the abortion table, or on the medical table. Whether or not that cold, naked baby, alone, has a right to medical care. We all know the answer. The answer is, "Of course she does!" Every baby dies if you leave her to passively die of exposure. Whether she was born in a gold-plated hospital with a lot of fancy, expensive cars in the parking lot outside that NICU unit or whether or not she was born in the unfortunate circumstances of an abortion clinic in a strip mall. Every little baby that's already been born? They'll die if you deny care to them. And so of course we shouldn't do that. Of course, the United States Senate should stand up and defend those babies. We all know that denying care to the most vulnerable among us is barbaric, and this body ought to be able to stand 100 to 0 against that barbarism. It's inhumane, and it's passive infanticide, and the Senate should, today, condemn and prohibit that practice.
Is that practice what my colleagues really want to defend? I can't believe that they do, and when you talk to them one to one, the 44 who filibustered this legislation a year ago this week? When you talk to them one to one? They get real uncomfortable, and they try to change the subject to all sorts of other culture war debates because they don't want to have a conversation about the actual legislation and the actual babies that we're considering today. Why? Because they're scared to death of Planned Parenthood's army of lobbyists, that's why. Not because any of them really want to defend the morally reprehensible, morally indefensible practice that is passive infanticide. None of them want to defend it, they're just scared.
Last year 44 Senators filibustered this legislation, they said that it was okay to look the other way while newborns were discarded. They said that federal law should not ensure that these babies are treated with care. They seem to have a real hard time saying that human beings outside the womb have the same right to life as you and I ought to have - and that we get care, we need care, they need care, and they should get care. Put down your talking points, please read the bill before you vote today. Read the expert testimony that the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee allowed us to hold in his committee room two weeks ago where we brought in both medical and legal experts to talk about what happens in these abortion clinics. And so for those in this body who are not on the Judiciary Committee or who didn't do the preparation for today's vote, I want to summarize the testimony of one of the people that came before our Judiciary Committee.
Jill Stanek, who now works for the Susan B. Anthony List, was at an Illinois hospital in the 1990s and early 2000s. And here's a quote from her: “Of 16 babies the Christ Hospital aborted during the calendar year 2000, four that I know of were born alive and they were aborted alive. That’s 25 percent. Four out of the 16 abortions at that hospital. Each of those babies, there were two boys and there were two girls, lived somewhere between 1-1/2 and 3 hours. One baby was 28 weeks’ gestation age, 7 months old, and weighed two pounds, seven ounces.”
Numbers from the CDC and the states that report data on abortion - that's about eight of the 50 states that do some reporting and data collection on this - numbers from the CDC and the states that report data on abortion survivors tell a story of babies who were breathing, whose hearts were beating, who stretched their arms, wiggled their fingers, and kicked their legs. This is the actual data. You want to talk about being pro-science? Being pro-science is being pro-baby.
What happened to these babies? Medical practitioners have testified before Congress about walking into rooms where living babies were lying naked and alone on countertops where they would be left to expire by themselves, alone, cold, naked, denied care.
Opponents of this bill don’t want to deal with the facts. They’d prefer to stick to talking points and claim that this never happens. If they won’t listen to the medical experts, perhaps they’ll take the word of the Governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam.
In January of last year, disgraced Governor Northam was explicit during a radio interview where he said that a baby born alive during an abortion, "would be kept comfortable, then a discussion would ensue", about whether that baby should be left to die. That's actually what Governor Northam was talking about on the radio on Virginia. What he did was he made the terrible faux pas of saying in public the true stuff that this procedure and this practice of walking away and backing away from these babies and letting them die; he just decided to talk in public about the reality of what happens in some of these abortion clinics.
Governor Northam is not an outlier. Just three weeks ago, one of the Democratic candidates for president was asked on national television about infanticide, point-blank: Would he be comfortable if a mother invoked infanticide to kill her now already born-alive child? Mayor Buttigieg’s response, “I don’t know I'd tell them". Really? Somebody asks you if you can kill a baby that's already been born and you say you don't know what to say?
Everyone one of us — especially somebody running for the highest office in the land, to uphold the laws, laws which protect the right to life — should be able to say, without any hesitation, leaving babies to die is not unacceptable. This ain't hard stuff, people. There are actually some hard debates we have in this chamber, this isn't one of them. This is about babies that have been born-alive and whether or not you can decide to kill them. There's really no debate to be had here, which is why so many people who were planning to speak on the other side decided not to speak this afternoon. Because you can't defend the morally reprehensible procedure that is backing away, that is passive infanticide.
There are no exceptions. There are no special circumstances. We should protect every human being no matter how small they are, no matter how weak they are. And if the Senate says that it’s ok to ignore born-alive babies what we're really saying is we are okay with a society where some people count more than other people. We’d be saying we want a society where some people can be pushed aside if other people decide those folks are inconvenient. A society where we can dispose of you, if you happened to come into the world a certain way.
It’s unbelievably telling that Planned Parenthood, NARAL —which is the extremist abortion lobby and their armies of lawyers and slick public relations teams and influence peddlers— cannot draw this line. It's pretty amazing.
This bill is not about abortion. Again, I want to be clear we're voting on two things today, one of them is a piece of legislation about abortion. It's the Pain Capable bill, Lindsey Graham, the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, is going to speak in favor of it in a minute and I'm an original co-sponsor of his legislation, I support it and I'm going to whole-heartedly vote for it. But the other piece of legislation that we're going to vote on today actually isn't even about abortion. This should be a 100-0 no-brainer. This bill is not about Roe v. Wade. This bill will not change one word of abortion law in the United States.
And my colleagues can vote up or down, but they can’t pretend that they don’t know the stakes of what we're talking about.
America is a country built on a beautiful principle of equality and the terms of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act are intended to reflect that. A child born alive during a botched abortion should be given the same level of care that would be provided to any other baby born at that same gestational stage. Which is just to say, a born-alive baby is a human being, with fundamental human dignity, which is undeniable. She should receive the care and affection due to every other human being.
And today we have a chance to advance our commitment to human dignity. We can protect those babies who come into the world under the worst of conditions. We can welcome them into a world with love, and hope, and help, and care.
My colleagues, please do not turn your backs on those babies. I yield the floor.