Pro-Lifers to Harry Reid: Quit Denying Vote on Late-Term Abortion Ban

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 13, 2014   |   3:10PM   |   Washington, DC

On the anniversary of the conviction of late-term abortion practitioner Kermit Gosnell for killing babies born alive in a gruesome infanticide-type abortion process, pro-life groups today called on Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid to allow a vote on a bill to ban late-term abortions.

The House of Representatives has twice approved a bill that bans abortions from after 20-weeks of pregnancy up to the day of birth. But Democratic Leader Harry Reid refuses to allow a vote in the Senate.

lindseygrahamThe pro-life groups spoke today at a press conference with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), calling on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to bring the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” to a vote in the Senate. The bill would prohibit abortion after 20 weeks post-fertilization, since at that time unborn babies can feel pain.

Arina Grossu, director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Counci, was one of the pro-life advocates to join the lawmakers pushing for the ban.


“One year ago today, abortionist Kermit Gosnell was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder and 21 felony counts of illegal late abortion. The babies that Gosnell brutally killed outside the womb, felt pain. Millions of late-term babies at risk of currently being aborted will experience the same excruciating pain while still in the womb, if aborted,” she said. “I urge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to allow a vote on the ‘Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.’ This bill prohibits late abortion of pain-capable unborn babies after 20 weeks post-fertilization.”

lindseygraham2“Doctors routinely administer anesthesia for in-utero surgeries of babies at 20 weeks post-fertilization. Why would medical textbooks and professional anesthesiologists already have come to a general consensus that fetal anesthesia and analgesia are warranted for fetal surgical procedures, were it not for the presence and experience of pain in these tiniest of patients?” she asked.

Penny Nance, the president of Concerned Women for America also joined the press conference.

“Americans widely support enacting legislation that protects women and limits abortion after five months, when babies can feel pain. It’s disappointing that this issue is being used as a tool by those who place their political agenda above doing what is morally right. Their constituents sent them to Washington to uphold common sense principles like the health of women and fighting the inhumane treatment of unborn children,” she said. “The ‘fear’ of this legislative issue somehow damaging their political careers is no excuse to ignore the voice of the American people. Polling from Quinnipiac shows that 62 percent[1] support legislation protecting unborn babies beginning at 20 weeks.”

“A study by the Charlotte Lozier Institute has shown that the United States is one of just seven countries worldwide that permits abortion beyond 20 weeks, or when an unborn baby feels pain. The other countries include; China, North Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Canada, and the Netherlands. It’s time Congress, especially Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), acknowledges that a call to moral principle trumps a party agenda,” she added.

Americans United for Life Vice President supported the press conference as well.

ultrasound4d16Maxon made the following statement: “Almost one year ago today, I attended the murder trial of Philadelphia late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell. I listened to the prosecutor ask Gosnell what the majority of the world was thinking, “Are you even human?” On this anniversary of his conviction, we are comforted that justice was handed down when a jury of Gosnell’s peers found him guilty of the murder of children born alive during abortion, and of the shameful death of Karnamaya Mongar, a mother and refugee camp survivor whom Gosnell killed in his ‘house of horrors’ clinic.”

She concluded: “In an increasingly health-conscious society, why does abortion lack a ‘warning label?’ Numerous, well-documented studies in peer-reviewed medical journals document that abortion poses significant medical risks for women. We know that the later in pregnancy that an abortion takes place, the greater the risk for both mother and child.”

So far, 13 states have enacted 20-week abortion limits based on the unborn child’s ability to feel pain. The U.S. House passed companion legislation in June 2013 by a vote of 228-196.

Recent national polling by Quinnipiac, National Journal, Huffington Post, NBC/Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post/ABC News all found that a plurality or majority of Americans support limiting abortion after 20 weeks of gestation and that women support the measure in higher proportions than men.

A National Right to Life Committee poll found that 63 percent of Americans, and 70 percent of women, support a ban on post-fetal pain abortion. The same poll also found that American women, by an overwhelming majority of 62-27 percent, would be more likely to vote for lawmakers who support this bill.

The Senators also urged their colleagues to review a groundbreaking new report by the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the education & research arm of the Susan B. Anthony List, that found the U.S. is one of just seven countries out of 199 examined that allows elective abortions after 20 weeks.

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.”

Dr. Maureen Condic, who is Associate Professor of Neurobiology and Adjunct Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Utah School of Medicine, has 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.