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No, Democrats Don’t Want to ‘Murder’ or ‘Execute’ Babies

Mike Pence and other Republicans are accusing Democrats of supporting infanticide

US Vice President Mike Pence (C) speaks at the 46th annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, USA, 01 March 2019. The American Conservative Union's CPAC continues through 02 March.CPAC Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, USA - 01 Mar 2019

US Vice President Mike Pence (C) speaks at the 46th annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, USA, 01 March 2019. The American Conservative Union's CPAC continues through 02 March. CPAC Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, USA - 01 Mar 2019

ERIK S LESSER/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutte

Vice President Mike Pence took a break from railing against socialism Friday morning to accuse Democrats of supporting baby murder. “With Democrats standing for late-term abortion and infanticide and a culture of death, I promise you this president, this party and this movement will always stand for the unborn,” he said during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, drawing applause. “We will always defend the unalienable right to life.”

Pence isn’t alone. On Thursday, former Wisconsin governor and eternal ham sandwich evangelist Scott Walker attempted to make a distinction between infanticide and murder, which the Democrats also support, he claims. “By the way, it’s not live-birth abortion. It’s not infanticide,” he said at CPAC. “It is murder if you take the baby home and kill the baby at home. It’s murder. The same thing is true at the hospital.”

Sadly, the view that Democrats support “infanticide” is not exclusive to pro-life extremists like Pence and Walker; it’s becoming the new Republican party line — which is to say Trump tweeted it. “Senate Democrats just voted against legislation to prevent the killing of newborn infant children,” the president wrote on Monday. “The Democrat position on abortion is now so extreme that they don’t mind executing babies AFTER birth … This will be remembered as one of the most shocking votes in the history of Congress. If there is one thing we should all agree on, it’s protecting the lives of innocent babies.”

Trump’s tweets came in response to the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act failing to receive the 60 votes necessary to be brought up for a formal vote in the Senate, with 44 of 47 Democrats voting against it advancing. Sponsored by Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), the bill states that health care professionals must “exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health” of a child born alive after an abortion attempt as they “any other child born alive at the same gestational age,” regardless of the wishes of the parents.

“This is about the most simple thing you can say,” Sasse said on Fox News after the bill failed. “A baby is a baby, and they have dignity and they have worth. It’s not because they’re powerful; it’s because they’re babies. Today is a sad day in the United States Senate, but I remain hopeful long term, because ultimately the United States Senate today can have a bunch of people — 44 of our members decided to try to stick their head in the sand and pretend that a baby isn’t a baby — but 320 million Americans are going to have conversations around their kitchen table that are going to be more loving and logical.”

The context surrounding the bill is a little more complicated than Sasse and other Republicans want Americans to believe. Earlier this week, the New York Times spoke with Dr. Daniel Grossman, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, who explained that an infant being born alive after an attempted abortion is extremely rare. Dr. Kristyn Brandi, a board member of Physicians for Reproductive Health, told Vox that she’d never even heard of such a case. “This is a part of the false narrative around this bill and abortion later in pregnancy,” she said.

One of the ways this can occur is if a condition threatens the life of both the mother and the fetus, and labor must be induced in order to save the mother’s life. “If it seems unlikely that the baby will survive, the family may choose to provide just comfort care — wrapping and cuddling the baby — and allow the child to die naturally without extreme attempts at resuscitation,” according to the Times. Sasse’s bill would force doctors to revive the baby or stare down a fine and up to five years in prison.

Critics of the bill argue that it would intimidate doctors into not performing abortions; that legislation protecting born-alive infants already exists in the form of the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002; and that Republicans are using the bill as another way to restrict the rights of women and drum up cheap, bad-faith outrage ahead of the 2020 election.

“We must call out today’s vote for what it is: a direct attack on women’s health and rights,” Leana Wen, president of the Planned Parenthood, said in a statement responding to the bill. “This legislation is based on lies and a misinformation campaign, aimed at shaming women and criminalizing doctors for a practice that doesn’t exist in medicine or reality.”

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