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Defending the Defenseless

By Sen. John Thune

February 28, 2020

The Senate recently voted on two commonsense bills that would have gone a long way to help defend the rights of the defenseless. Unfortunately, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act and the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act were both defeated, largely on party lines. All Senate Republicans joined a handful of Democrats in supporting the born-alive bill, but we came just four votes shy of what we needed to move this important legislation forward. It was a short-term defeat in a never-ending pro-life mission that I’m deeply committed to pursuing.    

Both of these bills should have been uncontroversial. No matter where you stand on abortion, every one of us ought to be able to agree that infants who are born alive during an abortion procedure should receive the same care that a baby born alive in a hospital would receive. Similarly, every one of us ought to agree that, at the very least, we should not be aborting babies after the point that they can feel pain.

While we shouldn’t even need the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act or Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, the sad reality is that we do.

It should be obvious that any baby born alive, wherever he or she is born, ought to receive care. It’s become clear, though, that we need to underscore that being born alive in an abortion clinic instead of a hospital doesn’t eliminate a baby’s right to medical care. And we should all have the courage to say that abortions beginning in the sixth month of pregnancy – a point at which science has clearly demonstrated that the unborn child is able to feel pain – is wrong.

Every year, in the United States alone, hundreds of thousands of irreplaceable human beings are killed by abortion. That’s not some number the pro-life movement has cooked up. That’s straight from the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, formerly affiliated with Planned Parenthood, which reports, “Approximately 862,320 abortions were performed in 2017.” Most of us can’t even fathom what a number that big looks like. But to put it in perspective, 862,000 is roughly equivalent to the population of the entire state of South Dakota.

Americans are better than this. Our country was founded to safeguard human rights, not to take them away. And while we haven’t always lived up to that promise, we’ve never stopped trying.

It’s time. It’s time for us as a country to stand up and start protecting the rights of unborn human beings. It’s time for us to join the vast majority of the global community in prohibiting elective abortions past 20 weeks. And it’s time for us to make it clear that no matter what some may say, Americans believe that all children, whether born alive in a hospital or in an abortion clinic, deserve protection and basic medical care. Our fight is far from over.