WASHINGTON — Sen. Ben Sasse is looking to force a Senate debate on abortion today.
The Nebraska Republican plans to ask unanimous consent that the Senate approve his legislation that would require that anytime an abortion results in a live birth, the infant be considered a legal person and require health care providers to act accordingly.
“I’m going to ask all 100 senators to come to the floor and be against infanticide,” Sasse said during a floor speech last week. “This shouldn’t be complicated.”
In announcing his plan to seek approval of the bill, Sasse cited recent comments by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat.
Northam was speaking on a radio station when he was asked about legislation pending in his state that would ease restrictions on late-term abortions.
WTOP reported that Virginia law currently allows for abortions throughout the third trimester, so long as three doctors certify it’s necessary to protect the woman’s health.
The pending proposal would reduce the number of required certifying doctors from three to one.
Northam said controversy over that particular proposal had been overblown and that such late-term abortions are performed in cases where the fetus is not viable, with severe deformities.
He spoke about what would happen when the fetus is actually delivered.
“The infant would be delivered; the infant would be kept comfortable; the infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desire, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother,” Northam said.
Abortion rights opponents swiftly denounced those comments as an attempt to justify infanticide.
“We’re talking about a tiny life that has done nothing wrong to warrant being left to die cold and alone on a table,” Sasse said. “Everyone in the Senate ought to be able to say unequivocally that killing that little baby is wrong. This doesn’t take any political courage.
“And, if you can’t say that, if there’s a member of this body that can’t say that, there may be lots of work you can do in the world, but you shouldn’t be here. You should get the heck out of any calling in public life where you pretend to care about the most vulnerable among us.”
Northam has since insisted that critics are twisting his comments and said that demonstrates why difficult medical decisions should be made by women and their doctors rather than politicians.
“I have devoted my life to caring for children and any insinuation otherwise is shameful and disgusting,” Northam wrote on Twitter.
After making his abortion comments, Northam became embroiled in a fresh controversy over a racist photo on his yearbook page. That firestorm has many within his own party demanding his resignation.
Under the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act proposal, any health care provider present when a child is born alive following an abortion or attempted abortion is required to exercise the same degree of care they would provide to “any other child born alive at the same gestational age.”
They also would be required to see that the child is immediately admitted to a hospital.
Anyone who violates those requirements would be subject to up to five years in prison.