EXCLUSIVE – Senate Minority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., and Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., are pushing the Senate to pass legislation that would codify protections for babies who survive botched abortions, and require that doctors provide the same care to these infants as they provide to others.
The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which mirrors the House version of the bill that was only supported by a single Democrat, is expected to be introduced on Wednesday.
“What we’re trying to do is lay some markers down on things that should be no-brainers,” Thune said in an interview with Fox News Digital. “You would think everybody could agree that an infant born alive after an abortion should receive the same protections under the law, and then have the same access to medical care that any baby born alive in a hospital would receive.”
“It shouldn’t be controversial to say that the small number of children who survive an attempted abortion and are living outside their mother’s womb, that baby deserves to receive care,” Lankford said. “Protecting life should not be a partisan issue; it should be an American issue and a human rights issue.”
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Thune says the bill is “is very narrowly crafted” to deal with a unique and specific circumstances, which he says should be a “zone of agreement for every American irrespective of where you fall” on the issue of abortion.
“We think it’s a very common sense bill that upholds sort of the basic standard, if you will, of decency, and just simply declares that any infant born alive is entitled to medical care,” he said.
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.,
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
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The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act says that if an abortion results in the live birth of an infant, the infant is a legal person for all purposes under U.S. law, and has the same claim to protection of the law that anyone else would have at a hospital or clinic.
The measure also includes mandatory reporting of compliance failure to law enforcement, and whoever breaks the law is subject to fines and up to five years in prison. The bill also protects mothers from prosecution and lets them pursue civil litigation if a doctor who performed the abortion fails to comply with the law.
Thune’s bill could come into play in states like Minnesota, which just passed a bill that allows abortion up until birth, for any reason. Local Republican lawmakers called it “barbaric” and the “most extreme” abortion bill in the country.
Senate Minority WhipJohn Thune, a Republican from South Dakota.
(Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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The House version of the Thune-Lankford bill passed in a 220-210. Every Democrat voted against it except for Texas Democrats Rep. Henry Cuellar, who voted “yes,” and Rep. Vicente Gonzale, who voted “present.” That bill is the first piece of abortion legislation to make it past one chamber of Congress since the landmark decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Supreme Court case, which overturned Roe v. Wade and sent the power to limit abortions back to the states.
Thune says the issue of ensuring that a baby that survives an abortion should receive “overwhelming bipartisan support, irrespective of whether we’re in the pre-Dobbs or post-Dobbs era.”
“There ought to be things on which we can all agree, and that is when an infant is born, it deserves protection.” He called the nearly straight party-line House vote on the measure “stunning.”
“I think it speaks volumes about… where this issue and Democratic interest groups, and the politics of the Democrat Party. It’s become an article of faith with the abortion lobby, that there can’t be any kind of restriction whatsoever,” he said. “And so these Democrats just walk the plank. It’s pretty stunning.”
Senator James Lankford, R-Okla.
(Lankford Press Office)
Still, Thune hopes that senators like Joe Manchin, D- W.Va., and Tim Caine, D-Va., who personally oppose abortion, will peel off from other Democrats who are expected to vote against the measure if Democrats allow it to come up for a vote.
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“At some point, the issue of conscience has to kick in with people. And I think there are good people, hopefully, out there on the Democrat side to, at some point, just acknowledge that this is… a basic issue of life and death,” he said.