On Tuesday, after heated debate on the House floor, representatives voted 237 to 189 to pass H.R. 36, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. Sponsored by Representative Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) and co-sponsored by 182 of his colleagues, the bill would prohibit abortions after the 20-week mark, the point at which science shows the unborn feel pain.
Pain receptors (nociceptors) are present throughout the unborn child’s entire body and nerves link these receptors to the brain’s thalamus and subcortical plate by no later than 20 weeks after fertilization. By 8 weeks after fertilization, the unborn child reacts to touch. After 20 weeks, the unborn child reacts to stimuli that would be recognized as painful if applied to an adult human, for example, by recoiling.
It also refutes the outdated argument that unborn babies do not feel pain until a point after 20 weeks, pointing out that this argument “predominately rests on the assumption that the ability to experience pain depends on the cerebral cortex and requires nerve connections between the thalamus and the cortex.” However, that assumption is 10 years out of date, and more recent research “especially since 2007, provides strong evidence for the conclusion that a functioning cortex is not necessary to experience pain.”
As the bill passed the House, Franks told Breitbart News that allowing late-term abortions is inconsistent with our country’s principles:
For little babies to feel the crushing agony of the abortionist’s tools as they undergo “dismemberment abortion” in the land of the free and the home of the brave is a disgrace that defies human expression. Subjecting innocent babies, from the beginning of their six month of pregnancy and later, to this kind of insidious torture does not reflect the true character of America.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy stressed the necessity of protecting “the voiceless, the vulnerable, and the marginalized” when he announced the upcoming vote last week. “We have an obligation to speak and defend for those who can’t speak for themselves,” he added. House Speaker Paul Ryan also implored his colleagues to vote for the bill saying, “We must not turn away from the pain of the most vulnerable among us.”
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, released a statement calling the bill’s passage “a win for basic human decency.” The statement also pointed out that the United States is lagging behind and is just one of only seven nations in the world that allow unborn children to be killed for any reason up until the moment of birth. “Our nation does not belong in that disgraceful club,” Dannenfelser added. A Pain-Capable ban has already passed in twenty states and pro-lifers hope can now be pushed through the Senate and onto President Trump’s desk:
Now it’s time for the pro-life majority in the Senate to bring up this bill and force vulnerable pro-abortion Senators up in 2018 to either stand with their pro-life constituents and vote for this bill, or stand with the extreme abortion lobby and vote in favor of late-term abortion on-demand.
Polls have consistently shown that the majority of Americans, including 51 percent of Democrats, support 20-week abortion limits. In fact, a November 2016 poll found that 64 percent of voters nationwide are in favor of Pain-Capable bills, while just 28 percent oppose such legislation.
Consistent with public opinion, President Trump pledged before his election to sign a Pain-Capable bill into law. On Monday, his administration issued a statement reaffirming its support of the legislation:
The Administration strongly supports H.R. 36, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,and applauds the House of Representatives for continuing its efforts to secure critical pro-life protections.
According to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, just 1.3 percent of abortions take place after the 20-week mark. That at first may seem a small number, but as Life News points out, it could amount to 18,000 babies per year whose lives this Pain-Capable bill could save.
Those children’s lives are now reliant on support in the Senate where the bill needs 60 votes in order to pass. The House has done its work, and as Rep. Franks noted, “It now falls upon Mitch McConnell and the U.S. Senate to pass it for [President Trump’s] signature.”
Photo credit: Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0