A great deal of the conversation about abortion in America is based on lies about who occupies the more extreme position. For the media and their Democratic allies, the idea is that any limitation on abortion, at any point in a pregnancy, for any reason, is tantamount to fascistic Handmaid’s Tale-style misogyny.
Of course, there is no basis for this whatsoever. For decades, a plurality of Americans have consistently supported limits on abortion that grow more popular the further along the unborn baby is to birth. Overwhelming opposition to taxpayer funding for abortion here and overseas has been just as consistent, as has been opposition to ending abortion exceptions for rape, incest, and health threats to the life of the mother. The country has been far more principled in its positioning over the years than the politicians elected to represent them.
Now that Republicans have taken control of the House, they’ve chosen to advance a bill to enforce the Born Alive Infants Protection Act, originally passed in 2002. That legislation, which had a bipartisan group of cosponsors, passed the House by voice vote, and the Senate by unanimous consent. That means every top Democrat involved in the issue today — Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi — went along with it at the time. There were zero objections.
And why wouldn’t they go along with it? What the bill says seems unobjectionable on its face: that the protections of acts of Congress, the rules and regulations of federal bureaucracy and agencies, must include in any policy regarding persons, human beings, children, or individuals the infants of our species who are born alive, regardless of the stage of their development. As a practical matter, the original bill was meant as a protection for the idea that, upon delivery, an infant who survives a botched abortion must be provided with medical care. They can’t just be left to die according to the abortionist’s intent.
The new House measure, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, is designed to give the prior measure some teeth. It levies fines and up to five years in prison for those who do not provide care for an infant born alive, while explicitly exempting the mother from criminal prosecution and allowing for her to bring future civil actions against health care employees who violate the order.
Yet this time around, instead of unanimous support from Congress, just one Democrat — the last pro-life Democrat, Texas’s Henry Cuellar — voted for the bill. It is dead on arrival in the Democratic Senate.
This illustrates just how far we’ve come from the Democratic Party that once believed in “safe, legal, and rare”; it now believes in “shouting your abortion.” There can be only fealty to the idea that a woman who seeks an abortion deserves a dead baby at the end of it, no matter how that result is reached.
In Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, Ivan poses the question: “Imagine that you are creating a fabric of human destiny with the object of making men happy in the end, giving them peace and rest at last, but that it was essential and inevitable to torture to death only one tiny creature—that baby beating its breast with its fist, for instance—and to found that edifice on its unavenged tears, would you consent to be the architect on those conditions? Tell me, and tell the truth.”
Softly, his brother Alyosha answers: no. Today’s Democratic Party says, ever more loudly: yes.