The U.S. Senate has voted down the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. 44 in which Democrats, including the Massachusetts duo of Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, voted against protecting the lives of the most vulnerable among us. Wrap your brain around that if you can.

The legislation would have required that "any health care practitioner present" at the time of a birth "exercise the same degree of professional skill, care and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as a reasonably diligent and conscientious health care practitioner would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age." In other words, if a baby survives an abortion, all efforts must be made to keep the child alive under penalty of law.

In declaring her opposition to the bill, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire) insisted, "This bill is just another line of attack in the ongoing war on women's health."

"Women should decide what's best for their health," Sen. Warren said.

Really? I thought we were talking about a living and breathing child on this side of the womb which is recognized as a person with rights? Yet Shaheen and the others believe it to be a women's health issue. This is beyond self-centered it is sick.

In 1790, Quaker groups from New York and Pennsylvania asked Congress to consider legislation that would abolish slavery. They were joined by elder statesman and abolitionist Benjamin Franklin. There hadn't been a national debate on the matter before and while the discussion underscored just how deplorable slavery was, it also shined a light for the first time on the character of a people who fought, or so they claimed for the right of self-determination.

It took more than seven decades for the slavery debate to be resolved, but the seeds were planted that summer in 1790.

New polling indicates a sharp turnaround in attitudes towards abortion in the wake of recent debates over late-term abortions and the rights of the unborn. Breitbart says a new Marist-Knights of Columbus survey found some remarkable results:

"Among Democrats, the gap between pro-life and pro-choice identifiers was cut in half from 55 percent to 27 percent. The number of Democrats now identifying as pro-life is 34 percent, up from 20 percent last month, while the number identifying as pro-choice fell from 75 percent to 61 percent.

Younger Americans also moved dramatically, now dividing 47 percent pro-life to 48 percent pro-choice. One month ago, the gap was almost 40 percentage points with only 28 percent identifying as pro-life and 65 percent identifying as pro-choice."

The difference between pro-choice and just plain murder is becoming more apparent to more Americans.

In 1790, it took an eye-opening public debate to bring Americans to grips with the evils of slavery. May this public debate about abortion serve the same purpose.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.