Neither bill passed, but Republicans still got a chance to rile up their conservative base and shame women seeking abortions.
On Tuesday, after blocking action on 400 bills dealing with everything from gun safety to election security, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell forced a vote on two abortion bills — a 20-week abortion ban and a so-called "born-alive" bill.
The bills both fell short of the 60 votes needed, with the 20-week ban getting 53 yes votes to 44 no votes, and the "born-alive" bill getting 56 yes votes to 41 no votes.
While neither bill passed, they still served their intended purpose for McConnell and Republicans: further stigmatizing women seeking later abortions, threatening doctors, and drumming up support from the GOP's conservative base ahead of the 2020 election.
Nebraska Republican Ben Sasse's "born-alive" bill is an unnecessary piece of fearmongering that purports to solve a problem that does not exist: murder that takes place after a "botched" abortion.
Laws prohibiting murder are already on the books. As attorney and professor Neil Siegel told Politifact, "There is no lack of statutory or constitutional law that would protect babies through a live birth or a failed abortion."
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham's bill, misleadingly named the "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act," relies on inaccurate information unsupported by medical research.
Once again, politicians are imposing their goals — and their own, unqualified interpretations of complex medical information — on both patients and doctors.
As Jacqueline Ayers, vice president of government relations and public policy at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a press release: "Health care decisions should be made by patients and their trusted health care provider, not by politicians in the Senate. […] The politicians behind these bills have one ultimate goal in mind: to ban access to safe, legal abortion in this country — and they know the public is not on their side."
In fact, support for abortion is at record highs. A substantial majority of Americans — 77% — do not support overturning Roe v. Wade. Even a majority of Republican men don't want to see the decision overturned.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic candidate for president, responded to McConnell's show vote, saying, "Today's abortion vote in the Senate is part of a deliberate, methodical, orchestrated right-wing assault on reproductive rights, & I am sick & tired of it. The American people are sick & tired of it."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.