By Edward Mechmann
Earlier this week, a bill banning infanticide died in the United States Senate.
Yes, you read that correctly. The Senate couldn’t muster up enough votes to ban a practice that any civilized society would look upon with abhorrence.
Here’s what happened. The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act was brought to the floor of the Senate by its sponsor, Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska. Because of the procedural rules of the Senate, it needed 60 votes to close debate (to end a purely theoretical filibuster), which would allow the Senate to vote on whether to pass it. Everyone understood that this was not just a procedural vote, but was really a substantive vote on the bill itself. So a “yes” vote was to ban infanticide, and a “no” vote was against it.
In a normal world, a bill like this would pass unanimously. But that’s not the world we live in. Instead, the bill only got 56 votes. Every Republican voted for the bill – bravo! But only three Democrats could bring themselves to vote against infanticide (three others were out on the campaign trail and likely would also have voted against it). Shame on them!
During the debates, the Senate Democrats gave no recognition that what we are talking about is a living, breathing human being who has already survived the abortion and is completely outside of her mother’s body. She is not a “fetus” any more – that term only applies to a baby who is still in the womb. We are talking about a newborn who is completely dependent on others for the means to continue living.
Instead of recognizing that basic and obvious fact, the Senate Democrats falsely claimed that the bill was all about restricting abortion. But the bill explicitly states that it only applies if a baby is born alive and the abortion is over. All it requires is that the doctor give the baby ordinary health care, the same care that would be given to any other patient. So let’s be clear – we’re not talking about abortion, we’re talking about murder by neglect. This isn’t about abortion – it’s about guaranteeing a dead baby. That is barbaric.
When asked about his vote against the bill, our Senator, Charles Schumer, fell back on the disinformation being spread by the pro-abortion lobby. He said, “there’s a law in 2002 that is on the books — current law that covers everything Sasse is talking about. It’s a play to the hard right base. The American people don’t support it.”
Wrong on all counts. In 2002, Congress passed the federal Born Alive Infant Protection Act, which redefined the term “person” under federal law to include “every infant member of the species homo sapiens who is born alive at any stage of development”. The problem is that this law only applies to federal laws – it has no effect on state laws, which oversee virtually all abortions that take place in the United States. Which was the whole point of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act – to correct that deficiency.
And make no mistake – Americans definitely support a ban on infanticide. According to a poll last year, 83% oppose removing medical care for a viable child after the child is born.
How far we have come as a society! The Born Alive Infant Protection Act passed Congress unanimously. Yet in 2020, the Senate could only muster a bare majority to ban infanticide.
To add to their shame, on the same day the Senate failed to support a bill that would ban late-term abortions, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. Only two Democratic Senators voted for that, even though the same poll mentioned above showed that 80% of Americans oppose abortion in the third trimester (7-9 months of fetal development). Yet the abortion extremists persist in defying not only God’s law, but the opinions of their constituents.
Anyone who wants to know how their Senator voted can check here (the Born Alive Infant Protection Act) and here (the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act). The US Bishops have invited everyone to let their Senator know how they feel about their vote. Since New York’s two Senators voted against both bills, it would definitely be worth doing so.
It is becoming clearer and clearer that America has become a decadent and depraved society. The message of Scripture is very clear that the day will come when God will judge all nations. He has shown his patience and withheld his judgment, “not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Pet 3:9).
But no matter how shameless our rulers are, and no matter how far the Culture of Death advances, we cannot give in to pessimism, fatalism, or despair. We have the greatest gift, the medicine that will heal our deeply wounded world – the consolation and joy of knowing Jesus Christ. Let me close with the words of Pope Francis, in Evangelii Gaudium:
278. Faith also means believing in God, believing that he truly loves us, that he is alive, that he is mysteriously capable of intervening, that he does not abandon us and that he brings good out of evil by his power and his infinite creativity. It means believing that he marches triumphantly in history with those who “are called and chosen and faithful” (Rev 17:14). Let us believe the Gospel when it tells us that the kingdom of God is already present in this world and is growing, here and there, and in different ways: like the small seed which grows into a great tree (cf. Mt 13:31-32), like the measure of leaven that makes the dough rise (cf. Mt 13:33) and like the good seed that grows amid the weeds (cf. Mt 13, 24-30) and can always pleasantly surprise us. The kingdom is here, it returns, it struggles to flourish anew. Christ’s resurrection everywhere calls forth seeds of that new world; even if they are cut back, they grow again, for the resurrection is already secretly woven into the fabric of this history, for Jesus did not rise in vain. May we never remain on the sidelines of this march of living hope!