The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act doesn't place any new restrictions on abortion procedures, but that doesn't stop its opponents from using the same tropes they would employ against a bill that does.
At a Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on Tuesday, Democratic committee member Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) criticized the measure as unnecessary under federal law and called it part of an effort to "take control of women's bodies."
"No one here is in favor of infanticide; no one here is in favor of killing or harming infants," Hirono said. "Infanticide is a crime, and it always has been."
The senator then went on to cite a 2002 law that says all infants are treated as legal persons with legal protections, echoing a common Democratic talking point against the born-alive legislation.
"So if infanticide is already illegal in this country, then why are we here? Why are my Senate Republican colleagues pushing so hard for this bill?" Hirono asked. "And the answer is simple: This bill is the latest in a decadeslong effort by Republicans aiming to take control of women's bodies and prevent us from exercising our constitutional right to make personal decisions which include abortion in this country."
Later in her prepared remarks, Hirono also said that the bill "offers a solution to a problem that does not exist."
"I heard that the state has an interest in the unborn child," Hirono concluded. "I thought the state also has an interest in women having control over our own bodies."
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) — who was chairing the hearing and is sponsoring the bill in question — countered Hirono's remarks assertions about the alleged redundancy of the legislation.
"Infanticide is indeed illegal in the U.S., and yet in half of the states, there is no criminalization of walking away from the baby and allowing it to die by exposure," Sasse said. "There's an active-passive distinction and a state-federal distinction which are both pretty fundamental."
To Sasse's point, earlier in the hearing, Family Research Council Director Of Life, Culture And Women's Advocacy Patrina Mosley testified that only 26 states have laws that "require health care practitioners to exercise professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life of an infant born-alive after an abortion attempt."
Also, one of the key arguments behind the current born-alive legislation is that the law passed in 2002 insufficiently protected abortion survivors because it didn't specify what the obligations to care for them were or impose penalties for not doing so.
And to the never-ending claim about "control of women's bodies," the bill imposes no restrictions on when someone can obtain an abortion or through what kind of procedure is used in the process. It simply says that once a child is born alive as the result of an attempted abortion, any medical professional present is obligated to give "the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence" to them as they would "any other child born alive at the same gestational age."
At the beginning of the hearing, Sasse used his opening remarks to point out that, because the bill doesn't contain any restrictions on abortion, it offers the opportunity for members to come together on a bipartisan basis.
"For two centuries, Americans have worked relentlessly to extend basic human rights to more and more of our fellow citizens," Sasse said. "It's time to protect these newborn and vulnerable babies."