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Congressman Pushes National Ban on Abortions After 20 Weeks

by Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 5/17/13 3:37 PM

National

Following the national outrage over Kermit Gosnell and his late-term abortions that were essentially infanticide, a pro-life Republican member of Congress is pushing legislation that would ban abortions on babies after 20 weeks of pregnancy nationwide.

Congressman Trent Franks informed LifeNews today that he will advance legislation to provide protection nationwide for unborn children who have the capacity to experience pain while being aborted, a capacity defined in the bill as existing by 20 weeks fetal age.

Franks is the prime sponsor of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. The current version of the bill, which garnered a majority vote in the House in 2012, would apply only to the District of Columbia. The congressman told LifeNews today that he intends to revise the bill (H.R. 1797) in committee to cover the entire nation in a bid to prevent more cases like that of Kermit Gosnell.

As Chair of the House Judiciary’s Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, Franks will hold a hearing on the legislation next Thursday.

“I know when the subject is related in any way to abortion, the doors of reason and human compassion in our minds and hearts often close, and the humanity of the unborn can no longer be seen. But I pray we can at least come together to agree that we can and should draw the line at the point that these innocent babies can feel the excruciating pain of these brutal procedures,” he said.

Franks added:  “The case of Kermit Gosnell shocked the sensibilities of millions of Americans. However, the crushing fact is that abortions on babies just like the ones killed by Kermit Gosnell have been happening hundreds of times per day, every single day, for the past 40 years. Indeed, let us not forget that, had Kermit Gosnell dismembered these babies before they had traveled down the birth canal only moments earlier, he would have, in many places nationwide, been performing an entirely legal procedure. If America truly understands that horrifying reality, hearts and laws will change.”

“To this end, I have re-introduced the D.C. Pain Capable Unborn Protection Act, which will now be amended to broaden its coverage so that its provisions will apply nationwide,” he said. “Knowingly subjecting our innocent unborn children to dismemberment in the womb, particularly when they have developed to the point that they can feel excruciating pain every terrible moment leading up to their undeserved deaths, belies everything America was called to be. This is not who we are.”

The move to expand the bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks nationwide has the strong support of the National Right to Life Committee.

“National Right to Life strongly concurs in Congressman Franks’ decision that the time is ripe to seek protection for pain-capable unborn children nationwide,” said NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson. “Because of publicity surrounding the trial of Kermit Gosnell and subsequent revelations about other abortionists, many Americans are becoming aware for the first time that abortions are frequently performed late in pregnancy on babies who are capable of being born alive, and on babies who will experience great pain while being killed.”

Johnson says that in a nationwide poll of 1,003 registered voters in March, The Polling Company found that 64% would support a law such as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act prohibiting abortion after 20 weeks — when an unborn baby can feel pain — unless the life of the mother was in danger. Only 30% opposed such legislation.

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Johnson added that the federal bill contains legislative findings and operative language very similar to bills already enacted in nine states, beginning in 2010, based on model legislation prepared by NRLC. Like those state laws, Mr. Franks’ legislation contains findings of fact regarding the medical evidence that unborn children experience pain at least by 20 weeks after fertilization (which is 22 weeks in the “LMP” system, or about the start of the sixth month), and prohibits abortion after that point, except when an acute physical condition endangers the life of the mother.

Some of the extensive evidence that unborn children have the capacity to experience pain, at least by 20 weeks, is available on the NRLC website.

During the 2011-12 Congress, Mr. Franks’ bill garnered 222 co-sponsors in the 435-member House, and received the support of a majority of House members on July 31, 2012 (roll call no. 539).