Senator pushes for protection of babies who survive abortion after Virginia late-term debacle

Senator Ben Sasse addressing the Senate about his plans to introduce protections for babies born alive during abortions

Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse is seeking to introduce legal protections for babies born alive during botched abortions after a late-term abortion bill tabled in Virginia sparked outrage last week. 

In a speech on the Senate floor, Sasse said he wanted medical professionals to face punishment if they fail to care for a baby that has survived an abortion. 

It follows the furore over Democratic lawmaker Kathy Tran's now failed bill introduced to the Virginia legislature last week, which she said would allow abortion up to the moment of giving birth and even when women are 'dilating'. 

The outcry only grew after Virginia governor Ralph Northam attempted to defend Tran's bill in a radio interview with WTOP-FM that led to accusations of supporting infanticide. 

'[Third trimester abortions are] done in cases where there may be severe deformities. There may be a fetus that's nonviable. So in this particular example, if a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen,' said the governor, who is now at the centre of a blackface row.

'The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated, if that's what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.'

Sasse was among those accusing Northam of endorsing infanticide.  Others included Florida Senator Marco Rubio.  

Speaking to Fox News, Sasse said Northam should 'get the hell out of office'. 

'The comments the governor of Virginia made were about fourth-term abortions,' Sasse said on Fox News's 'The Daily Briefing with Dana Perino'. 'That's not abortion, that's infanticide.'

Explaining his proposed bill, titled the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, on the Senate floor, Sasse repeated the sentiment. 

'I'm going to ask all 100 senators to come to the floor and be against infanticide. This shouldn't be complicated,' he said.

He continued: 'Let's be clear what we're talking about. We're talking about killing a baby that's been born. We're not talking about some euphemism, we're not talking about a clump of cells.

'Everyone in the Senate ought to be able to say unequivocally that killing that little baby is wrong. This doesn't take any political courage.

'And, if you can't say that, if there's a member of this body that can't say that, there may be lots of work you can do in the world but you shouldn't be here. You should get the heck out of any calling in public life where you pretend to care about the most vulnerable among us.'

Tran tried to defend her bill on Twitter, saying she was 'surprised' by the questions she faced in the Virginia legislature over its implications and that its aim was to 'help women make their own healthcare decisions in consultation with their doctors'. 

She had been due to take part in a townhall meeting at South County High School in Lorton on Saturday but the event was called off.

Pro-lifers had been planning to protest the meeting and went ahead with their rally in spite of the cancellation. 

'We are disappointed Delegate Tran and her colleagues chose to call off their town hall rather than face pro-life constituents, who were looking forward to the opportunity to voice their alarm over Delegate Tran's radical abortion bill in person,' the Susan B Anthony List, one of the rally's organizers, said in a statement Friday evening.

'Tran has taken to social media attempting to defend her legislation that, by her own admission, would allow abortion on demand right up through the moment of birth. Now she needs to listen to the voters. Our peaceful demonstration will take place as scheduled.'