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Democratic state legislators surprise on life

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (seated R), poses with state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (C), Sarah Weddington (seated L), the lawyer nationally known for successfully arguing the winning side of the Roe v. Wade case, and others after signing the controversial Reproductive Health Act into law on January 22, 2019.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (seated R), poses with state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (C), Sarah Weddington (seated L), the lawyer nationally known for successfully arguing the winning side of the Roe v. Wade case, and others after signing the controversial Reproductive Health Act into law on January 22, 2019. | Photo: Twitter

Democrats and their abortion industry allies have shown in 2019 how absolutely they have devoted themselves to their abortion agenda. They have pushed into overdrive their efforts to expand the right to an abortion in law. They even oppose requiring health care professionals to provide infants born alive after surviving a botched abortion with the same care as any other infant at the same stage of development. 

Just look at what’s transpired in the last three months in states like New York and Virginia. Lawmakers in New York cheered as they passed a law that removed explicit legal protections for infants born-alive following an attempted abortion, while Virginia’s governor defended letting newborns die after surviving an abortion

Pro-lifers never would have guessed we’d have to fight for equal protection for infants born alive after a failed abortion, but here we are.

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In Washington, Congress has failed to reach a consensus on the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, sponsored by Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.). In the Senate, 44 Democrats banded together to prevent the measure to stop infanticide from reaching a floor vote. In the House, Speaker Pelosi has blocked a vote on the bill 36 times. As frustrating as this is, Americans opposed to infanticide and late-term abortion (which are really the same thing) have reason for optimism.

The politics of late-term abortion are changing, and recent polling confirms this. After the New York late-term abortion bill became law and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s comments on infanticide made headlines, pollsters measured a 17-percentage point shift toward the pro-life position among Americans. For the first time since 2009 the percentage of Americans who call themselves pro-life polled even with those who call themselves pro-choice. According to the same poll, more than a third of Democrats now identify as pro-life (two-thirds of Republicans identify as pro-life). 

Another poll examined the views on abortion of another key demographic to the Democratic electoral coalition: millennials. Surprisingly, 70 percent of millennials support limits on abortion; only 7 percent of millennials share the Democratic party’s position on abortion (abortion without exceptions and on the taxpayer dime). For the other 93 percent, I think it’s safe to say they oppose letting newborn infants die suffering from lack of nourishment, medical treatment, or worse.

Changing public perceptions about the issue of life is important; changing the legal landscape is critical. 

At the state level, more than 85 Democratic state legislators have voted for legislation to protect life this year alone. These Democrats have voted in favor of measures to protect infants born alive following an attempted abortion, prohibit abortion once a baby in the womb has a detectable heartbeat, prohibit abortion when sound medical and scientific evidence has shown a baby in the womb can feel pain, ban the gruesome dismemberment abortion procedure, or amend a state constitution to clarify there is no right to an abortion or taxpayer funding of abortion.

Despite immense pressure from the abortion industry and party leadership, these Democrats voted their consciences – and should be commended for doing so. Recently, North Carolina State Sen. Don Davis (D) voted with his Republican colleagues to override Governor Roy Cooper’s veto the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (Senate Bill 359). Davis was the lone Democrat to cross the aisle to oppose infanticide; his vote was the deciding vote to override the governor’s veto. The bill now awaits an override vote in the North Carolina House. 

In New Mexico, eight Democratic State Senators crossed the aisle to vote against House Bill 51, a bill which would have kept abortion legal in that state in the event Roe v. Wade is overturned. In Louisiana, five Democrat State Representatives are co-sponsors of House Bill 425, a bill which would amend the state constitution to make clear that nothing therein guarantees the right to an abortion, or requires the state to fund abortion, including Democratic Rep. Katrina Jackson, who spoke at the 2019 March for Life

Sudden shifts in public attitudes on abortion and bipartisan votes on pro-life legislation are sure to send ripple effects through American politics. If national Democrats continue to tow the pro-late-term-abortion line and oppose bills like the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, they are sure to continue to alienate their own voters who can clearly see these truths: life is precious, life begins in the womb, and all newborn babies are worthy of equal protection.

Matt Carpenter is Deputy Director of State and Local Affairs at Family Research Council.

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