October 5, 2017
U.S. Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) joined Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Joni Ernst (R-IA), and James Lankford (R-OK) in introducing the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.
The legislation would provide common-sense protections for unborn children at 20 weeks after fertilization, a point at which there is significant scientific evidence that abortion inflicts tremendous pain on these vulnerable human beings. On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Pain-Capable legislation by a vote of 237-189.
“Washington has a debate between empty euphemisms like ‘choice’ and basic science – none of the usual euphemisms change the fact that a 20-week old baby can see, swallow, and flex her arms and legs,” said Senator Ben Sasse. “Americans rightly condemn human rights abuses around the world because we judge societies on how they take care of their most vulnerable members – there’s no good reason for the United States to be on a list of human rights abusers like China and North Korea in allowing these kinds of abortions.”
“There are only seven countries that allow wholesale abortions at the 20-week period, including China and North Korea. The United States should not be in that club,” said Senator Lindsey Graham. “I don’t believe abortion, five months into pregnancy, makes us a better nation. America is at her best when she’s standing up for the least among us and the sooner we pass this legislation into law, the better. We are on the right side of history.”
“At five month gestational age, babies have 10 fingers and 10 toes, they can yawn, stretch, make faces – and they can feel pain,” said Senator Joni Ernst. “It’s unconscionable that the United States is currently one of only 7 countries in the world that allows abortions after five months; we are currently in the same company of China and North Korea. I’m fighting for this legislation in honor of my friend and fellow Iowan, Micah Pickering, an incredible 5 year old who was born prematurely, at five months gestation. This legislation could protect up to 10,000 lives like Micah’s every year by preventing abortions after about 5 months of development, and it is absolutely critical that the Senate take up this legislation to protect our most vulnerable.”
“The United States is one of only seven countries, including North Korea, that allow abortion at five months of pregnancy,” said Senator James Lankford. “I applaud the House for passing this bill; it is now time for the Senate to act on this. So many children are alive, healthy, and growing today who were born prematurely at five months pregnancy. We should not allow elective abortions past five months of pregnancy, especially when science shows that unborn babies feel pain at this stage.”
The legislation has been cosponsored by forty-five senators, including Senators John Barrasso, Roy Blunt, John Boozman, Richard Burr, Bill Cassidy, Thad Cochran, Bob Corker, John Cornyn, Tom Cotton, Mike Crapo, Ted Cruz, Steve Daines, Joni Ernst, Mike Enzi, Jeff Flake, Deb Fischer, Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch, John Hoeven, James Inhofe, Johnny Isakson, Ron Johnson, John Kennedy, James Lankford, Mike Lee, Jerry Moran, John McCain, Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul, David Perdue, Rob Portman, James Risch, Pat Roberts, Mike Rounds, Marco Rubio, Ben Sasse, Tim Scott, Richard Shelby, Luther Strange, Dan Sullivan, John Thune, Thom Tillis, Pat Toomey, Roger Wicker, and Todd Young.
Background on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act
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. The unborn child shows physical, chemical, brain and stress responses demonstrating pain at this stage of development.
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.
- This legislation protects unborn babies after 20 weeks or five months, more than halfway through the pregnancy.
- The United States is one of only seven countries that allows on-demand abortions past 20 weeks. The other six are: North Korea, China, Vietnam, Singapore, Canada, and the Netherlands.
- Pain-Capable legislation has already passed in Nebraska and other states. They include South Carolina, Ohio, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Indiana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, Idaho, Iowa, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, and Arizona.
- Advances in modern medicine help babies born at 20, 21 and 22 weeks post-fertilization survive outside the womb. The pain these babies feel outside the womb gives evidence to the pain their unborn counterparts feel while in utero.
- Ultrasounds show unborn babies at 20 weeks sucking their thumb, yawning, stretching and making faces.
Summary of Provisions:
- 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, unless –
- It is necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman;
- The pregnancy is a result of rape and the woman has received medical treatment or counseling at least 48 hours prior to the abortion; or if she chooses to do so, has made a report to law enforcement; or
- The pregnancy is a result of rape or incest against a minor and the abuse is reported to either social services or law enforcement.
- In the case of the exceptions –
- the abortion may only proceed in a manner that provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive unless that would pose a greater risk of death or serious bodily injury to the pregnant woman; and
- the abortion provider must receive informed consent from the pregnant woman, certifying that she has been provided the child’s gestational age, a description of the law, and her rights under the law.
- A woman on whom an abortion was performed in violation of this Act may bring a civil action against the abortion provider in court to recover damages.
- Abortion doctors are required to submit annual data to the National Center for Health and Statistics providing statistical information about abortions carried out after 20 weeks post-fertilization age.
- The criminal punishment for a violation of this Act is imprisonment of up to five years, fines, or both.
- The Act makes clear that a woman who receives an illegal abortion in violation of this act may not be prosecuted.