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Harry Reid Challenged to Allow Vote on Late-Term Abortion Ban

by Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 6/19/13 11:40 AM

National

Now that the House of Representatives has passed the bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, pro-life advocates and the bill’s sponsor are challenging pro-abortion Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid to allow a vote in the Senate.

The vote for the bill broke down on mostly partisan lines with Republicans supporting the ban on late-term abortions and Democrats opposing it. The House approved the bill on a 228-196 vote with 6 Democrats voting for the bill and 6 Republicans voting against it.

Now the question is whether Reid will allow a up or down vote on the measure in the Senate — or whether Republicans will have any success in forcing the Senate to vote on the bill by attempting to attach it to other legislation as an amendment.

Rep. Trent Franks, the Arizona Republican, is hopeful but realistic about the slim chances of a Senate vote.

“If Harry Reid somehow had an open moment and he just looked at the situation for what it was . . . and you know, stranger things have happened,” he muses.

“Once in a while, a person finds his humanity in a way that astounds his contemporaries,” Franks adds. “And if it did happen, I think a vote on the floor of the U.S. Senate today would be very close. This might actually pass.”

Should the Senate somehow vote on the 20-week abortion ban and pass it, Franks knows pro-abortion President Barack Obama will make good on his veto threat.

“Mr. Obama would probably veto the bill, just like Mr. Clinton vetoed the partial-birth-abortion bill,” he told National Review. “Of course when the presidency changed, that was one of the first things signed.”

Leading pro-life groups are also challenging the Senate to take up the bill.

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins said, “We call on the Senate to update legal protection for pain-capable children and pass this legislation to stop future Gosnells. Americans overwhelmingly support restrictions to late abortion and we urge the Senate to ignore the president’s advisors and pass the House bill.”

Added Marjorie Dannenfelser, President of the SBA List: “This pro-woman, pro-science, Constitutional bill deserves an immediate vote in the U.S. Senate. It’s simple: children capable of experiencing unimaginable pain from abortion must be protected across the country.”

“Now the members of the U.S. Senate should stand with the women of America protect women and unborn, infant children, from dangerous, later-term procedures,” said American United for Life’s Charmaine Yoest.

A recent national poll by The Polling Company found that, after being informed that there is scientific evidence that unborn children are capable of feeling pain at least by 20 weeks, 64% would support a law banning abortion after 20 weeks, unless the mother’s life was in danger.   Only 30% said they would oppose such a law.

During the hearing, former abortion practitioner Anthony Levatino told members of the committee the gruesome details of his former abortion practice and how he became pro-life following the tragic automobile accident of his child.

Another bombshell dropped during the hearing came from Dr. Maureen Condic, who is Associate Professor of Neurobiology and Adjunct Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Utah School of Medicine. She testified that the unborn child is capable of reacting to pain as early as 8-10 weeks. This is when most abortions in America take place.

The committee also saw graphic pictures of babies who were killed by Douglas Karpen, who is considered the second Kermit Gosnell.

The late-term abortion ban would allow abortion after 20 weeks post-fertilization if the mother’s life is endangered, or in cases of rape and incest reported prior to the abortion to appropriate authorities.

H.R. 1797 contains congressional findings of fact regarding the medical evidence that unborn children experience pain at least by 20 weeks “post-fertilization age,” or the start of the sixth month.

The bill relies on the science of fetal pain to establish a Constitutional reason for Congress to ban abortions late in pregnancy. The science behind the concept of fetal pain is fully established and Dr. Steven Zielinski, an internal medicine physician from Oregon, is one of the leading researchers into it. He first published reports in the 1980s to validate research showing evidence for it.

He has testified before Congress that an unborn child could feel pain at “eight-and-a-half weeks and possibly earlier” and that a baby before birth “under the right circumstances, is capable of crying.”

He and his colleagues Dr. Vincent J. Collins and Thomas J. Marzen  were the top researchers to point to fetal pain decades ago. Collins, before his death, was Professor of Anesthesiology at Northwestern University and the University of Illinois and author of Principles of Anesthesiology, one of the leading medical texts on the control of pain.

“The functioning neurological structures necessary to suffer pain are developed early in a child’s development in the womb,” they wrote.

“Functioning neurological structures necessary for pain sensation are in place as early as 8 weeks, but certainly by 13 1/2 weeks of gestation. Sensory nerves, including nociceptors, reach the skin of the fetus before the 9th week of gestation. The first detectable brain activity occurs in the thalamus between the 8th and 10th weeks. The movement of electrical impulses through the neural fibers and spinal column takes place between 8 and 9 weeks gestation. By 13 1/2 weeks, the entire sensory nervous system functions as a whole in all parts of the body,” they continued.

With Zielinski and his colleagues the first to provide the scientific basis for the concept of fetal pain, Dr. Kanwaljeet Anand of the University of Arkansas Medical Center has provided further research to substantiate their work.

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“The neural pathways are present for pain to be experienced quite early by unborn babies,” explains Steven Calvin, M.D., perinatologist, chair of the Program in Human Rights Medicine, University of Minnesota, where he teaches obstetrics.

Dr. Colleen A. Malloy, Assistant Professor, Division of Neonatology at Northwestern University in her testimony before the House Judiciary Committee in May 2012 said, “[w]hen we speak of infants at 22 weeks LMP [Note: this is 20 weeks post fertilization], for example, we no longer have to rely solely on inferences or ultrasound imagery, because such premature patients are kicking, moving, reacting, and developing right before our eyes in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.”

“In today’s medical arena, we resuscitate patients at this age and are able to witness their ex-utero growth and development. Medical advancement and technology have enabled us to improve our ability to care for these infants…In fact, standard of care for neonatal intensive care units requires attention to and treatment of neonatal pain,” Dr. Malloy testified. She continued, “[t]hus, the difference between fetal and neonatal pain is simply the locale in which the pain occurs. The receiver’s experience of the pain is the same. I could never imagine subjecting my tiny patients to horrific procedures such as those that involve limb detachment or cardiac injection.”