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Is the Republican Senate Ready to Advance Pro-Life Policy?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was chased on his way out of a restaurant by protesters on Saturday, July 7.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was chased on his way out of a restaurant by protesters on Saturday, July 7. | U.S. Department of Defense/Glenn Fawcett

While midterm voters provided America with a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, an expanded Republican victory in the Senate is a mandate for the solid pro-life policies we have been seeing from President Trump and congressional leadership over the past two years.

Even if the Democrats can now pass pro-abortion legislation in the House that forces taxpayers to fund abortion and provide massive subsidies for abortion providers, pro-lifers have the votes to stop such actions in the Senate, and also can certainly rely on President Trump's veto.

Under this administration, we have witnessed the confirmation of pro-life judges and executive branch officials, the creation of a new pro-life conscience protection division at HHS, a halt to our tax dollars paying foreign organizations that perform abortions (President Trump reinstated the Mexico City Policy in its most expansive form ever), and the defunding of the UNFPA which operates in China despite its coercive, pro-abortion two child policy.

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President Trump accomplished all this, much in his first one hundred days, to fulfill his promise to further the pro-life agenda.

The Republican-controlled House has successfully passed the Born Alive Abortion Survivor's Protection Act. This bill, sponsored by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., would ensure under threat of criminal sanction that any child born alive during an attempted abortion would receive the same degree of care as reasonably provided to any other child born alive at the same gestational age. With Republican gains, the Senate should be able to now pass it too.

After a sore defeat in 2015, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act passed the House and received a majority in the Senate despite not clearing the 60 vote filibuster threshold. This bill would protect unborn children from abortions after five months post-fertilization – the point at which science tells us an unborn child can feel excruciating pain. A majority of the American people support limiting abortions after five months and the United States is one of only seven countries in the world that even permit elective abortion past this point. Over a dozen states have already passed legislation to protect the unborn from this brutal experience, but it is not yet in federal law.

Finally, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017 passed the House multiple congressional sessions in a row, though not the Senate. This bill would make permanent the annual Hyde Amendment prohibition on the use of federal funds for abortion or health coverage that includes abortion and apply it government-wide. Sixty-percent of Americans have already said they do not want their tax dollars going towards paying for abortions. It is now up to a pro-life Senate and pro-life President to build upon the groundwork that's been laid.

While the House is set to become less pro-life over the next two years, this is not due to its Members being too out in front on the life issue, but not enough. When our elected officials have taken a strong stand for life at the federal level, social conservative voters are motivated and show up to vote for them. While the House is now Democrat-controlled, the Republicans who were re-elected to office are more socially conservative on average – and more pro-life.

With gains in the Senate, we hopefully will not need to see many more close calls like when Vice President Mike Pence successfully broke a 50-50 tie in the Senate to pass legislation undoing an Obama-era pro-abortion regulation on Title X. After President Trump's signature on this bill, states are now no longer forced to grant Title X Family Planning funds to abortion providers, keeping in step with the original purpose and intent of Title X.

The president's agenda has been clear when it comes to pro-life priorities. The House has been passing pro-life bills, and now the Senate stands ready to. The Republican party platform has been called the most conservative and pro-life Republican platform ever – calling for the defunding of Planned Parenthood, codifying the Hyde Amendment, and support for a constitutional right to life amendment. With a platform like that there should be no party more concerned about abortion, one of the greatest human rights violations of all time, than Republicans.

Now, it is up to the Senate, working with President Trump, to advance pro-life policies and seek justice for the unborn.

Patrina Mosley is the Director of Life, Culture and Women's Advocacy at the Family Research Council.

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