The Corner

Politics & Policy

Alabama Senator Doug Jones Dodges Questions on Late-Term Abortion

Sen. Doug Jones (D., Ala.) arrives for a briefing on the coronavirus outbreak in China on Capitol Hill, January 24, 2020. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Earlier this week, 42 Senate Democrats and two Senate Republicans blocked a bill that would ban most abortions after the fifth month of pregnancy, when infants are old enough to feel pain and may survive if born prematurely. Two Senate Democrats, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, voted in favor of the five-month abortion limit, but one Senate Democrat who represents a state that’s more conservative than either Pennsylvania or West Virginia opposed the bill: Doug Jones of Alabama. 

Jones issued a statement in which he said he opposed the legislation because it “could have led to a mother’s death or severe disability,” but the late-term ban explicitly includes an exception allowing abortion when a mother’s life is “endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury.” In the Capitol on Thursday, Jones repeatedly refused to discuss his vote. 

Asked if a late-term abortion ban could be modified in any way to win his vote, Jones told National Review: “I have not looked at that. That’s not the bills I’m looking at to try to get passed.” 

“I’m not going to get into speculation. I put out a statement on this, and that’s all we’re doing.” 

Is there any reason abortion should be legal late in pregnancy when both a mother and her unborn child are physically healthy? “I put out a statement on those bills. And that’s my statement,” Jones replied. “I will talk more about it when I get back home with my folks in Alabama.”

Does Jones support any restrictions at all on abortion late in pregnancy? “I think I may have made myself clear here,” he replied. “I’m not going to sit here in the middle of the Capitol and continue to talk about it.” 

Jones was first elected to the U.S. Senate in strongly pro-life Alabama in a December 2017 special election, when the Democrat defeated scandal-plagued Republican Roy Moore. Jones is facing election for his first full term this November.

This week, Jones did vote in favor of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which would require doctors nationwide to provide “the same degree” of care to newborn infants who survive abortion that “any other child born alive at the same gestational age.” 

Chuck Schumer, the Senate’s top Democrat, falsely claimed this week that “current law” already requires doctors in America to treat premature infants who survive abortions the same as they would other preemies born at the same age. Pennsylvania senator Bob Casey told National Review on Thursday that while “a lot of states” have laws protecting newborn infants who survive abortions, “if you have a federal policy, that ensures a wider scope of protection.” 

While some Senate Democrats resorted to obfuscation, others simply stonewalled when asked about legislation to protect viable premature infants. Michigan senator Gary Peters, who voted against both the late-term ban and the bill to protect newborn infants, gave no explanation for his votes in the Capitol on Thursday. “We voted on those bills before. So they’re the same bills,” Peters told National Review before ducking into an elevator.

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