New Congressional Bill Would Ban Late-Term Abortions After 20 Weeks

National   Steven Ertelt   Jan 6, 2015   |   6:27PM    Washington, DC

Pro-life members of Congress today introduced legislation in the House of Representatives that bans abortions from after 20-weeks of pregnancy up to the day of birth.

With Republicans controlling both the House and Senate, there is a guarantee that the important pro-life legislation will finally receive a vote in both chambers of Congress. In 2013, the House approved the bill on a 228-196 vote with 6 Democrats voting for the bill and 6 Republicans voting against it. President Barack Obama has issued a veto threat against that bill and Senate Democrats refused to bring it up for a vote.

Congressman Trent Franks of Arizona, along with Representative Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, are the lead sponsors of the bill.

ultrasound4d49In a statement, Franks told LifeNews: “More than 18,000 ‘very late term’ abortions are performed every year on perfectly healthy unborn babies in America. These are innocent and defenseless children who can not only feel pain, but who can survive outside of the womb in most cases, and who are torturously killed without even basic anesthesia.   Many of them cry and scream as they die, but because it is amniotic fluid going over their vocal cords instead of air, we don’t hear them.”

“Late term Abortion in America has its defenders, but no true or principled defense.  The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act seeks to afford basic protection to mothers and their unborn babies entering the sixth month of gestation,” he said. “Throughout America’s history, the hearts of the American people have been moved with compassion when they discover a theretofore hidden class of victims, once they grasp both the humanity of the victims and the inhumanity of what is being done to them. America is on the cusp of another such realization.”

“We have a moral obligation to end dangerous late-term abortions in order to protect women and these precious babies from criminals like Kermit Gosnell and others who prey on the most vulnerable in our society,” Blackburn said. “The United States is one of the few remaining countries in the world that allows abortion after 20 weeks. That is why today we renew our efforts to protect the lives of babies and their mothers with the introduction of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. Rep. Franks and I have been a good team moving this legislation through the House as we continue to lead the fight to ensure the unborn are provided the same protections that all human life deserves.”

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Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee says several states have already passed the bill.

“The Franks-Blackburn bill is based on the NRLC model legislation that has been enacted in 10 states, and it reflects a policy that is broadly supported in national public opinion polls.  In the new Congress, every member of the House and Senate will go on record on whether to permit the continued killing of pain-capable unborn children, in the sixth month and later,” he told LifeNews.

A 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.

A November 2014 poll from Quinnipiac found that 60 percent of Americans support legislation limiting abortions after 20 weeks, including 56 percent of Independents and 46 percent of Democrats.

During the hearing on the last bill, 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 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 has provided further research to substantiate their work.

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.”

“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.”