Congress will vote tomorrow on a bill that bans abortions after 20-weeks of pregnancy, and one pro-life group says members of the House that vote against it are associating themselves with Kermit Gosnell.
Gosnell is the abortion practitioner who was convicted on multiple counts of first-degree murder for late-term abortions that were essentially infanticides. The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 1797) would ban such abortions — in fact banning abortions from 20 weeks up to the day of birth.
The legislation to provide nationwide protection for unborn children who are capable of feeling pain, beginning at 20 weeks fetal age, is considered by the National Right to Life Committee and dozens of pro-life groups to be a landmark bill.
“This bill is the most significant piece of pro-life legislation to come before the House since the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in 2007,” said NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson.
But he warned pro-abortion lawmakers to vote against the bill that they are putting themselves in league with Gosnell.
“Any lawmaker who votes to allow unlimited abortion in the sixth month or later is voting to encourage a continuation of the horrors associated with the likes of Kermit Gosnell,” he told LifeNews.
Marilyn Musgrave of the Susan B. Anthony List also underscored the importance of the bill.
“This is the most critical moment in Congress for the pro-life movement since the fight to ban partial-birth abortions,” she said. “While the ban on partial-birth abortion only banned a particular type of late-term procedure, this bill would put an end to late-term abortions starting at 20-weeks all together. It would protect an entire class of unborn children – something that’s never been done in Congress before.”
Charmaine Yoest of Americans United for Life is also pressing for the 20-week abortion ban.
“America was outraged and shocked upon hearing that Dr. Kermit Gosnell murdered babies born alive after failed abortion attempts. Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s “house of horrors” showed America the truth about late term abortion in this country,” she said. “I urge you to contact your Congressman now to protect women and unborn children from late term abortion.”
“There is substantial and well-documented medical evidence that an unborn child by at least 20 weeks gestation has the capacity to feel pain during an abortion. It is also undisputed and universally accepted that the risk to maternal health from abortion increases as gestation increases,” she added. “Legislation prohibiting late-term abortions both respects the right to life of the unborn child and seeks to protect women who could die or be harmed from abortions at or after 20 weeks gestation. The United States is one of only nine nations that allow abortion after 14 weeks gestation. The United States joins the company of China, North Korea and Canada as the only countries in the world that permit abortion for any reason after viability.”
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 generally bars abortion after that point, with an exception that applies when an acute physical condition endangers the life of the mother. Note: 20 weeks post-fertilization age (“fetal age”) is equivalent to “22 weeks of pregnancy” in the widely employed “LMP” dating system. Journalists who wish to translate into the “weeks of pregnancy” or “weeks of gestation” (LMP) dating system are free to do so, of course, but if they write that the bill would “ban abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy,” they are in error by two weeks. In the “weeks of pregnancy” system, the bill applies at 22 weeks.
On Wednesday, a committee passed the bill on a 20-12 vote and the measure now heads to the full House floor where it is expected to receive a debate and vote next week. Republicans are supportive of the measure while Democrats are generally opposed to it.
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 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.
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“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.
Further documentation and links to the scientific studies can be found at: www.doctorsonfetalpain.com.