US Senate sidelines “Born-Alive” bill

The stage was set in the U.S. Senate Monday for a divisive vote related to late-term abortion, and one open question was how Lisa Murkowski would vote. She can be hard to predict on abortion legislation.

The bill the Senate considered would require doctors to provide medical care to an infant that is accidentally born alive when an abortion goes wrong.

Most Republicans, including Sen. Dan Sullivan, co-sponsored the legislation. Supporters of the bill say to neglect a live baby would be infanticide.

Most Democrats voted against advancing the bill. Opponents say infanticide is already illegal and claim the real goal of the bill is to intimidate doctors and burden their patients.

Sen. Murkowski often crosses the aisle to vote in favor of abortion rights. But Monday she didn’t vote at all. Her spokeswoman said she had a prior commitment in Alaska and did not make it back to the Capitol in time.

(She also missed a vote on a late-term abortion ban in 2015, due to a prior commitment. She said afterward that she would not have supported it anyway.)

Murkowski’s position on abortion is nuanced. She generally supports abortion rights, with limitations. And she has said that she could vote for a late-term abortion ban, as long as it includes adequate exceptions.

The “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection” bill needed 60 votes to advance. It got only 53.

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Liz Ruskin covers Alaska issues in Washington as the network's D.C. correspondent. She was born in Anchorage and is a West High grad. She has degrees from the University of Washington and the University of Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia. She previously worked at the Homer News, the Anchorage Daily News and the Washington bureau of McClatchy Newspapers. She also freelanced for several years from the U.K. and Japan, in print and radio. Liz has been APRN’s Washington, D.C. correspondent since October 2013. She's @lruskin on Twitter. She welcomes your news tips at lruskin (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  | About Liz

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