Law & the Courts

Senate GOP Pushes Pro-Life Bills to the Floor to Isolate Vulnerable Dems on Late-Term Abortion

Senator Ben Sasse (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

The Senate will vote Tuesday on two pro-life bills seeking to limit late-term abortion, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell aiming to set a litmus test for centrist Democrats while bolstering social conservatives ahead of the 2020 election cycle.

The bills, proposed by Senators Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) and Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) seek to ban the vast majority of abortions after 20 weeks, and make doctors who perform them subject to criminal prosecution. Sasse’s bill also aims to protect the life of babies who survive a botched abortion.

“There are only seven countries that allow wholesale abortions at the 20-week period, including China and North Korea.  The United States should not be in that club,” Graham said in a statement released Monday.

Sasse added in a speech that his bill, which was blocked by Democrats last year, “is not about Roe. This is not about politics. It’s about a simple question: Will the Senate protect babies?”

While both need a supermajority of 60 votes to advance — an unlikely proposition in the 53-47 Republican-controlled Senate — the New York Times reported that McConnell hopes to use futile vote to galvanize the GOP’s social-conservative base, especially in states where vulnerable Democrats could be forced to answer for their vote.

Last week, the National Republican Senatorial Committee released a video showing Alabama Democrat Doug Jones calling a late-term abortion ban “a stupid question.”

Reached for comment, the NRSC implied that the votes could be used to target Jones and Senator Gary Peters (D., Mich.), who are both widely seen as Republican 2020 targets to gain seats in the Senate.

“Vulnerable Senators Doug Jones and Gary Peters turned their backs on their constituents when they voted to remove the President from office, and are expected to do so again today when they fail to stand for life,” press secretary Nathan Brand told National Review in a statement.

In 2019, the Senate turned down Sasse’s born-alive bill in a 53-44 vote, with Jones  — along with fellow Democrats Bob Casey of Pennsylvania Joe Manchin of West Virginia — joining Republicans in supporting the legislation. Peters and other Democrats voted against the legislation.

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