Sen. Lindsey Graham, a pro-life South Carolina Republican, will introduce the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act tomorrow at a press conference with representatives of leading pro-life groups.
In June, the House approved the legislation and the vote for the bill broke down on mostly partisan lines with Republicans supporting the ban on late-term abortions and Democrats opposing it. Leading pro-life organizations issued statements praising the House for the vote.
“The legislation would save more than 15,000 unborn children each year by banning abortion nationwide after 20 weeks (about 5 months) gestation. At this point, scientific evidence reveals an unborn child can feel excruciating pain,” Graham said in a statement from his office.
“At the age of 20 weeks post fertilization, scientific evidence tells us an unborn child can feel pain. Anesthesia is administered directly to the unborn child in second-trimester fetal surgery, because otherwise the baby recoils from the surgical instruments due to this pain. In the unborn child, application of painful stimuli is associated with long-term harmful neurodevelopmental effects,” he noted. “The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is based in science, has overwhelming public support, and is necessary to protect unborn children from painful and untimely deaths.”
The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would make it illegal for any person to perform, or attempt to perform, an abortion without first making a determination of the probable post-fertilization age of the unborn child. If the post-fertilization age of the unborn child is determined to be 20 weeks or greater, an abortion shall not be performed.
Abortion practitioners who break the law would be subjected to a five-year prison term and/or fines.
Because Democrats control the Senate, lawmakers there are not likely to vote on the bill unless sponsors can make some sort of deal with Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid or attempt to attach it to other legislation.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the Susan B. Anthony List, and Carol Tobias, the president of the National Right to Life Committee, will be on hand to unveil the pro-life legislation.
“A growing number of states and the U.S. House have now voted to end the barbaric practice of late abortion past the point at which the child can feel pain,” Dannenfelser told LifeNews.
“We applaud Senator Graham and urge all Senators to join him in cosponsoring this compassionate legislation. We ask Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to bring this to the Senate floor for a vote immediately,” she added. “He and his colleagues should stand with the majority of Americans opposed to brutal, late abortion, and wholeheartedly embrace the opportunity for debate.”
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Dannenfelser continued: “There is great consensus across the nation on this issue — especially in the aftermath of Kermit Gosnell and the exposure of other abortion clinic horrors like those at Douglas Karpen’s facility in Texas, and ‘meat market’ style abortions at Planned Parenthood in Delaware. It is time that the law reflects our natural recoil from such violence against the innocent.”
The bill, if it receives a vote in the Democrat-controlled Senate, is not expected to pass and pro-abortion President Barack Obama has issued a veto threat. But pro-life groups hope to use the measure as an election tool in 2014 in an attempt to wrest the Senate from abortion advocates.
One leading expert in the field of fetal pain, Dr. Kanwaljeet S. Anand at the University of Tennessee, stated in his expert report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Justice, “It is my opinion that the human fetus possesses the ability to experience pain from 20 weeks of gestation, if not earlier, and the pain perceived by a fetus is possibly more intense than that perceived by term newborns or older children.”
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.
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.
“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.”