Abortion Legal for Any Reason Until Birth in Nation’s Capital

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 14, 2012   |   1:43PM   |   Washington, DC

A Congressional committee will hold a hearing on Thursday on a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy in the District of Columbia based on scientific evidence showing unborn children feel pain.

In a new letter today to members of the U.S. House of Representatives, the National Right to Life Committee urged support for the legislation and explained the fact that abortions are legal for any reason until birth in the nation’s capital.

Dear Member of Congress:

Did you know that in our nation’s capital, it is perfectly legal to subject unborn children to terribly painful deaths, even during the sixth and seventh months of pregnancy — or even later? In the District of Columbia, abortion is now legal at any point up to the moment of birth, for any reason, as long as someone is willing to pay an abortionist for the gruesome “service.”

This appalling situation will be explored by the U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution on May 17, 2012, in a public hearing on the District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 3803). This legislation, introduced by Congressman Trent Franks, is similar to laws that have already been enacted in six states (Nebraska, Kansas, Idaho, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Georgia). The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), which is the nationwide federation of state right-to-life organizations, urges you to join 186 of your colleagues as a cosponsor of this bill, if you have not already done so. This bill is NRLC’s top congressional priority for 2012.

Our nation was created when the original group of sovereign states came together and formed a federated republic. Article I of the U.S. Constitution established that the national seat of government would be placed forever not within any state, but in a special Federal District — and that the Congress would “exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District.” But what would the Framers of our Constitution say if they returned today and learned, to their horror, that well-developed unborn babies are legally being put to death, in terrible pain, virtually within the shadow of the U.S. Capitol and the White House?

One abortion “clinic,” situated not far from the National Mall and the White House, openly advertises abortion on demand up to the beginning of the seventh month of pregnancy — payable by a credit card. (“Checks and money orders are not accepted.”) This facility mentions the method used for its late abortions — “dilatation and evacuation,” also known as “dilation and evacuation” or “D&E.” In a D&E, the abortionist grasps the little arms and legs of the well-developed unborn baby and literally tears them off, one by one, by brute manual force. The baby is alive, of course, at the beginning of this dismemberment abortion. A medical illustration of this common, brutal abortion method is posted here: https://www.nrlc.org/abortion/pba/DEabortiongraphic.html

The baby certainly experiences excruciating pain as her limbs are twisted off with steel forceps. 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 at https://www.nrlc.org/abortion/Fetal_Pain/index.html

Who can put a stop to this? The Congress, and — if he would — the President.

In H.R. 3803, Congress would declare that at least by 20 weeks after fertilization, an unborn child has the capacity to experience pain — and, on that basis, the bill would prohibit abortions within the District (except when acute physical problems endanger the life of the mother) from that point on (from the beginning of the sixth month, in layperson’s terminology). By cosponsoring this bill, you would express your opposition to the current policy of unrestricted legal abortion to the moment of birth in the nation’s capital. Those who vote against the bill will, of course, be voting to ratify that exact policy. The Constitution leaves no doubt that with respect to protection of innocent human life in the federal District, “the buck stops” with Congress.

Thank you for considering our urgent request that you add your name as a cosponsor of H.R. 3803, if you have not already done so.

Douglas Johnson
Legislative Director

Susan T. Muskett, J.D.
Senior Legislative Counsel

Arizona Republican Congressman Trent Franks introduced the District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The bill is similar to a first-in-the-nation law the state of Nebraska passed that successfully drove late-term abortion practitioner LeRoy Carhart to move most of his abortion business to Maryland and bans abortions at 22 weeks gestation (20 weeks post-conception) due to the scientific evidence that not only do unborn children feel pain, they feel it more acutely because pain “dampeners” do not fully develop until 40 weeks gestation, and later.



According to Johnson, at least two abortion providers currently are advertising that they provide abortions in the District past the point that the bill would establish protection – one to 24 weeks after fertilization, and the other during the third trimester, at least to seven and one-half months, and perhaps later.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, a pro-abortion Democrat representing the federal district in Congress, has pledged to fight the bill.

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.

“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.