WASHINGTON (BP) — The U.S. Senate’s refusal to protect unborn children even in the last half of pregnancy brought contempt upon America, said Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore.
[[email protected]@180=This is to our national shame.” — Russell Moore]Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, decried the failure “to protect our unborn neighbors” after senators rejected legislation Tuesday (Sept. 22) to prohibit abortions of babies 20 weeks or more after fertilization. The 20-week time frame is based on scientific evidence a child in the womb experiences pain by that point in gestation.
The Senate voted 54-42 to bring the Pain-capable Unborn Child Protection Act to the floor, leaving supporters six votes short of the requirement. Though a majority of senators favored consideration of the proposal, the attempt to invoke cloture, as it is known, needed 60 votes to open debate on the legislation and establish a path to its passage.
The House of Representatives had passed the same bill, H.R. 36, in May by a 242-184 margin.
“This is to our national shame,” Moore said in written comments for Baptist Press after the Senate vote. “The fact that 20-week-old citizens are denied protection of their human rights is a grievous failure of courage and moral leadership in our country. This vote is a reminder that the cause of life and human dignity for our most vulnerable and defenseless people still has a long way to go.”
The Senate’s refusal to consider the late-term ban came four days after the House approved two other abortion-related measures: One to cut off federal funds to Planned Parenthood during a congressional investigation and the other to protect babies who survive abortions.
Sen. James Lankford, R.-Okla., initiated Sept. 21 a fast-track process to bring the Defund Planned Parenthood Act, H.R. 3134, directly to the Senate floor without committee consideration, The Hill reported. GOP members also began the fast-track process for floor action on the Born-alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, H.R. 3504, according to the political news website.
The defunding proposal would place a one-year moratorium on federal money for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and its affiliates while Congress investigates evidence of trafficking in baby body parts. Since mid-July, the Center for Medical Progress has released 10 undercover videos that show Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of organs from aborted children and acknowledging their willingness to manipulate the abortion procedure to preserve body parts for sale and use. The videos also provided evidence of the dissection of live babies to remove organs.
The Senate already has failed this year in an attempt to defund Planned Parenthood. In August, the effort to invoke cloture fell short in a 53-46 vote.
The born-alive survivors bill would require appropriate care and hospital admission for a child who lives through an abortion or attempted abortion.
The demise of the pain-capable abortion ban demonstrates the difficulty pro-life measures face in gaining Senate approval. Though the Democratic Party, which overwhelmingly favors abortion rights, is in the minority, it is able to block passage of even the least restrictive of pro-life bills under Senate rules.
Only three Democrats — Sens. Robert Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia — voted for the pain-capable abortion ban. Two Republicans — Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Mark Kirk of Illinois — opposed the legislation.
Of the senators’ vote, Rep. Trent Franks, R.-Ariz., the sponsor of the House-approved bill, said on Facebook he is “very disappointed and heartbroken that they cowered away from protecting the most innocent and vulnerable among us.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R.-S.C., sponsor of the Senate version, said in a written statement, “There are only seven countries that allow wholesale abortions at the 20-week period including China and North Korea. We should no longer be part of that club.”
Abortion-rights advocates, meanwhile, applauded the Senate rejection of the ban.
Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-choice America, said the vote had “nothing to do with women’s health and everything to do with pandering to a politically extreme base in a presidential cycle.”
Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, disagreed, saying in a written release, “The extremists on this issue are Big Abortion and its political allies who are pushing abortion through all nine months,” as well as “fighting health and safety standards that protect women’s lives.”
The White House had announced its strong opposition to all three pro-life measures. It threatened a veto by President Obama of the pain-capable ban and promised vetoes of the Planned Parenthood defunding bill and the born-alive survivors proposal.
In Sept. 18 votes, the House approved the defunding of PPFA by 241-187 and protection for born-alive abortion survivors by 248-177.
In its latest financial report (2013-14), PPFA said it received more than $528 million in government grants, contracts and reimbursements. As the country’s No. 1 abortion provider, its affiliates performed 327,653 of the lethal procedures during 2013.