The U.S. House of Representatives will be voting next Tuesday, October 3, whether or not to protect children in the womb from being aborted at or beyond 20 weeks gestation. The bill’s language is identical to a bill that passed the House in May 2015 but failed to obtain 60% of the votes required in the Senate.
The bill recognizes that babies as young as 20 weeks have pain receptors in a concentration equal to or greater than that of adults. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) wrote the following statement:
Next week, I’m bringing legislation to the House floor that will respect the sanctity of life and stop needless suffering. The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act will protect the voiceless, the vulnerable, and the marginalized. It will protect those children who science has proven can feel pain, and give them a chance to grow and live full and happy lives. We have an obligation to speak and defend for those who can’t speak for themselves. I welcome every member of the House and the Senate to unite together and say that when children can feel pain, when you can see their noses and ears, when you can hear their heartbeats and feel their movement—at the very least we can all agree these children should be protected.
President Trump agrees. He has vowed to sign the bill into law should it pass both chambers of Congress this time.
According to the Center for Disease Control, in the U.S. in 2013, at least 5,770 late-term abortions were performed at or after 21 weeks of pregnancy. The legislation would also protect babies at the 20-week mark. (See image below of what happens during a second-trimester abortion.)
However, the bill also includes exceptions necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman, or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.
The bill specifies, “A physician who performs or attempts to perform an abortion under an exception must comply with specified requirements.” According to the Liberty Counsel, a violator is subject to criminal penalties – a fine, up to five years in prison, or both.
The rape and incest exception is maddening and grievous. The premise of the argument for supporting this particular bill is based on scientific evidence that babies in this gestational age range can feel pain intensely. Yet, an exception is made for children, who by no control of their own, have been conceived in a manner that now makes them worthy of an intensely painful death?
I cannot write this piece without mentioning this downside of the bill. To dismiss the exception with a mere percentage (1/2 of 1% of all abortions) is inexcusable because each and every child is conceived in the image of Almighty God. And no one is more or less valuable than the other.
Twenty-week abortion bans with varying exceptions have already been enacted in 20 states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
A 2014 Quinnipiac University poll of 1,623 registered voters revealed that 60% would support a law that prohibits abortion after 20 weeks. Only 33% said they would oppose the legislation.
Women voters were split 59-35% in support of such legislation. Even 46% of Democrats expressed support, as did individuals in the age range of 18-29, by 57%.
Fewer than 10,000 babies would be saved through this legislation annually – a small decrease when considering the total number of babies aborted every year (664,435 in 2013). Yet when we can save babies, by all means, let’s do it. Who knows, this law could easily begin a process of dismantling Roe v. Wade, starting with its companion cases.
To contact your state representative concerning the vote on HR 36 (Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act) on Tuesday, click here.
For more information concerning what you can do to help end abortion and overturn Roe v. Wade, read here.