Pro-Life Groups Demand Harry Reid Allow a Vote on 20-Week Abortion Ban

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 7, 2013   |   3:10PM   |   Washington, DC

The House of Representatives has already passed the bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and the only thing standing in the way of getting the legislation to President Barack Obama is pro-abortion Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid.

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. President Barack Obama has issued a veto threat should the Senate approve the bill.

Today, joining pro-life Sen. Lindsey Graham, who introduced the late-term abortion ban in the Senate, pro-life groups demanded Reid allow a vote on the measure. At a press conference this morning, Graham announced he would introduce the landmark legislation that would provide nationwide protection for unborn children who are capable of feeling pain, beginning at 20 weeks fetal age.

The National Right to Life Committee tells LifeNews it is calling on Reid to bring the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to the Senate floor for a vote.

“It is time for the Senate to take action on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, and we urge Senator Reid to heed the will of the people and allow the bill to come before the Senate for a vote,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. “One-fifth of the states, nearly two-thirds of Americans, including two-thirds of American women, and the U.S. House of Representatives agree. Now it’s time for the U.S. Senate to do its job and act to protect these most vulnerable members of our human family.”

“Not since Congress voted to ban the brutal partial-birth abortion method has a more important piece of pro-life legislation come before Congress,” added Susan T. Muskett, J.D., National Right to Life senior legislative counsel. “Lives hang in the balance. Congress cannot sit idly by to condone these violent acts; it’s time to take a stand for the protection of these pain-capable unborn children.”

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is based on a National Right to Life model bill that has already been enacted in ten states. The U.S. House of Representatives approved the federal bill June 18, 2013, 228-196.

NRLC estimates that at least 140 abortion providers offer abortions past the point that this legislation would permit. These late abortions are performed using a variety of techniques, including a method in which the unborn child’s arms and legs are twisted off by brute manual force, using a long stainless steel clamping tool.

Maureen Ferguson of The Catholic Association is also calling on Reid to allow a vote on the pro-life bill.

“Americans, including women, overwhelmingly support limits on late-term abortion. We call on the Senate leadership to allow a vote on this bill to protect the most basic human rights of these children,” she said.

“Every year in this country at least 15,000 babies are subjected to legal abortion past 20 weeks. The vast majority of these are purely elective, as abortion doctors themselves have admitted. The last time Congress considered the issue of late-term abortion Ron Fitzimmons, then Executive Director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers confessed that he “lied through his teeth” when he claimed that the majority of late abortions involve health
complications for the mother or baby. Some in the abortion lobby, however, continue to promote this myth despite evidence to the contrary,” she continued.

“These babies can hear our voices, but they don’t yet have a voice of their own. They need us to speak up for them, and they need legal protection,” she said.

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.

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.

The legislation 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.”