Senate Democrats Tried, and Failed, to Shut Down Abortion Debate | Opinion

Ahead of a Supreme Court decision in the historic abortion case Dobbs v. Jackson this summer, momentum is building to modernize our nation's outdated abortion laws and pro-life Americans have won significant victories at the state level. According to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, 19 states enacted more than 100 new laws to protect unborn children and their mothers in 2021 alone. Pro-abortion Democrats in Washington want to shut down debate and reverse all of this progress by passing the deceptively titled Women's Health Protection Act. Fortunately, the measure failed to garner the necessary votes on Monday evening, with every Republican senator present voting against it, joined by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.).

This bill—which should have been named the "Abortion On Demand Until Birth Act"—was pro-abortion elites' latest attempt to trample the will of the American people. Far from protecting women's health, it would have enshrined an unlimited "right" to abortion in national law, given special protections to the profit-driven abortion industry and silenced opposition. If pro-abortion Democrats led by Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer had gotten their way, virtually every state law ever passed that limits abortion would immediately be thrown out, and it would be impossible for states to implement new restrictions.

The legislation's text goes far beyond Roe v. Wade, listing a wide variety of popular pro-life laws that would be forbidden. Under Roe, the United States is already one of a handful of countries—including China and North Korea—that permit late-term abortion on demand. Still, courts have upheld certain limits, such as informed consent laws that ensure women have the facts about the development of their unborn children and waiting periods that allow time for reflection before making a decision that ends one life and forever changes another.

This bill would have eliminated these and other efforts to rein in the most extreme and dangerous abortion policies. The abortion industry, with its seedy record of negligence and abuse, would have become even more unregulated than it is now. Late-term and dismemberment abortions—which tear the living child limb from limb, causing excruciating pain—would be legal on demand. Discriminatory abortions that target unborn children because of their sex, race or a diagnosis of Down syndrome or other conditions would be allowed to run rampant. Dangerous mail-order abortion drugs would also be unregulated, even though scientific studies have found such drugs can severely harm and even kill women.

Sens. Murray, Schumer and Baldwin
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 28: Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol February 28, 2022 in Washington, DC. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and other members of the senate spoke out on “legislation that would guarantee equal access to abortion everywhere.” Also pictured are Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) (C) and Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). Win McNamee/Getty Images

Senate Democrats pushing this agenda have pitted themselves against science and overwhelming public opinion. Their definition of fetal viability is half a century out of date—they even cited Justice Harry Blackmun's debunked views on when babies can survive outside the womb, which today is possible around 21 weeks with advanced medical care. Further, we now know that unborn babies have beating hearts by six weeks and can feel pain by 15 weeks, if not earlier. In fact, one of the world's top neuroscientists—and a longtime critic of the idea that unborn babies feel pain before viability—changed his mind in response to growing evidence.

The American people, on the other hand, reject pro-abortion extremism. An overwhelming 71 percent of Americans, including 49 percent of Democrats, support limits on abortion in the first two trimesters, and 80 percent believe third-trimester abortion should be illegal in most or all cases, according to an AP-NORC poll.

Instead of letting modern science and the consensus of the people make their way into law, the most extreme pro-abortion voices in Washington want to dictate policy across the country. Their effort to squash dissent shows just how worried Democrats are that the Supreme Court may overturn Roe this summer, and how fearful they are of giving up control and letting the American people decide abortion policy for themselves.

Leading Democrats like Bill Clinton used to opine that abortion should be "safe, legal and rare." Now Schumer, decrying the failed vote, calls abortion "sacred" and a "fundamental right." His party's attempt to pass an abortion bill even more radical than Roe shows how far out of step Senate Democrats are with the nation. In a midterm election year with many competitive races and few (if any) positive accomplishments for national Democrats to run on, senators have put themselves on record supporting or opposing abortion on demand through the moment of birth. Americans of all stripes must unite against this callous agenda and hold its proponents accountable in November.

Marjorie Dannenfelser is president of Susan B. Anthony List.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.