Legislation to protect pain-capable unborn children nationwide was introduced in the U.S. Senate yesterday by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). The landmark bill passed the House on June 18.
The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would prohibit abortion (with a few exceptions) beginning at 20 weeks post-fertilization (22 weeks LMP), the age at which substantial scientific and medical evidence shows that babies can feel pain. The bill is based on model legislation—crafted by National Right to Life—that has already been enacted in 10 states. The Minnesota Legislature passed the legislation in 2011, but it was vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton.
National Right to Life estimates (based on a Guttmacher Institute study) that at least 140 abortion providers perform abortions at 20 weeks post-fertilization or later. The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would save lives and prevent suffering. It also draws attention to the humanity and pain-sensitivity of unborn children and the brutality of killing them.
The House version (H.R. 1797), sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), passed by a vote of 228-196. Among Minnesota's U.S. House delegation, Reps. Kline, Paulsen, Bachmann and Peterson voted in favor of the protective measure, while Reps. Walz, McCollum, Ellison and Nolan voted against it (and in favor of unlimited abortion in the sixth month and later).
Anatomical, behavioral and physiological evidence that unborn children can experience pain and suffering at 20 weeks, if not earlier, is compiled at www.doctorsonfetalpain.com. A helpful discussion of the fetal pain debate was published recently in Deseret News.
"There is ample biologic, physiologic, hormonal, and behavioral evidence for fetal and neonatal pain," testified Dr. Colleen A. Malloy, a neonatology professor at Northwestern University, before a U.S. House committee last year. "We now understand the fetus to be a developing, moving, interacting member of the human family who feels pain as we do. If we are to be a benevolent society, we are bound to protect the fetus. We should not tolerate the gruesome and painful procedures being performed on the smallest of our nation."
Dr. Maureen L. Condic, a professor of neurobiology at the University of Utah School of Medicine, explained the scientific evidence for fetal pain before a U.S. House committee in late May. "Imposing pain on any pain-capable living creature is cruelty. And ignoring the pain experienced by another human individual for any reason is barbaric," she concluded. "We simply have to decide whether we will choose to ignore the pain of the fetus or not."
Dr. Anthony Levatino, a former abortion practitioner, graphically described the dismemberment procedure—called Dilation and Evacuation (D & E)—he used when performing second-trimester abortions. "If you refuse to believe that this procedure inflicts severe pain on that unborn child, please think again," he told the committee.
D & E abortions are as barbaric and inhumane as the killings of notorious Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted earlier this year on multiple counts of first-degree murder. The only difference? Location. Gosnell was convicted for brutally killing babies outside—rather than inside—the womb.
The weight of public opinion is decidedly against late abortions. A Polling Company survey in March found that 64 percent of Americans (and 63 percent of women) support protection for unborn children capable of experiencing pain. Similarly, a Gallup poll in January found that 64 percent of Americans think abortion should be illegal in the second trimester of pregnancy, and 80 percent think it should be illegal in the third.
Senate leaders must be urged to allow a vote on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken should consider the interests of the child suffering in the womb and vote for this reasonable and compassionate measure, which is supported by the majority of Americans and Minnesotans.