House Democrats rejected a budget amendment Monday to protect unborn babies from abortions in the second trimester when strong scientific evidence shows that they can feel pain.
The House Judiciary Committee defeated the pro-life amendment, introduced by Congresswoman Michelle Fischbach, R-Minnesota, in a 19-24 vote.
Fischbach’s amendment would have added language to the 2022 federal budget prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks to protect unborn babies who are capable of feeling intense pain.
“It is time for our laws to catch up with the science,” she told the committee, noting how surgeons use anesthesia while doing surgery on unborn babies after 20 weeks. “Modern science has shown us that pain receptors are present throughout the unborn child’s entire body at 20 weeks, but some studies have shown that the baby may feel pain as early as 12 weeks.”
Significantly, a prominent scientist who abortion advocacy groups cite to claim that unborn babies do not feel pain until late in pregnancy recently revised his position. In 2020, he published a new analysis stating that unborn babies likely feel pain as early as 12 weeks of pregnancy.
“It should be the responsibility of Congress to assert a compelling public interest in protecting the lives of unborn children from the stage in which substantial medical evidence indicates they are capable of feeling pain,” Fischbach said.
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Her amendment also would have required basic medical care to be provided to babies who survive abortions.
Democrats control the U.S. House, and they consistently have blocked pro-life legislation that has broad public support.
Polls show strong public support for laws banning abortions on unborn babies in the second and third trimesters. A new poll from AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that a strong majority of Americans believe abortions should be illegal in the second (65 percent) and third trimesters (80 percent).
Several recent polls show Americans support even stronger limits on abortion, too.
A new Rasmussen poll found that Americans support the Texas heartbeat law, which prohibits abortions once an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable, about six weeks of pregnancy. According to the poll, 46 percent support the law while 43 percent oppose it.
An April poll by the University of Texas-Austin found that 49 percent of Texans support making abortions illegal after six weeks of pregnancy, while 41 percent oppose it. And a national Hill-HarrisX survey in 2019 found that 55 percent of voters said they do not think laws banning abortions after six weeks – when an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable – are too restrictive.
In the United States, most unborn babies are aborted in the first trimester. However, second- and third-trimester abortions still claim the lives of tens of thousands of unborn babies every year.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 92 percent of all abortions in 2018 occurred within the first 13 weeks of pregnancy. The Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion group considered to have the best estimated abortion numbers for the U.S., reported 862,320 abortions in 2017, the latest available data. Based on those two reports, about 68,986 unborn babies are aborted in the second or third trimester every year.