Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Senate vote on Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act expected today

The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, commonly referred to as the "20-week ban" because supporters rely on evidence that children can feel pain 20 weeks after conception, is coming up for a vote in the Senate today. The House has already passed it.

I've noticed some confusion about whether this is related to the exploitation of late-term babies for organ harvesting and research, how this is connected to the ongoing Planned Parenthood scandal, and why pro-life leaders are pushing the issue when we all know President Obama will veto it anyway. So let's get back to basics.

The 20-week ban is the bare minimum of human decency. Developmentally, babies at 20 weeks of gestation are not much different from preemies. They can hear, respond to touchkick, and yes, feel pain.

Above: A 21-week-old preborn baby smiles.

Even if you stubbornly believe in your heart of hearts that you become a person when you pass through the birth canal and not a second earlier, a 20-week ban is easily justified on pure animal welfare grounds. That may be why the majority of people who identify themselves as pro-choice reject such late-term abortions. Another important majority in favor of the 20-week ban: women.

Very few other nations allow elective abortions after 20 weeks. Among them are China and North Korea, not exactly the role models we want to follow on human rights.

We've been pursuing pain-capable legislation for a long time, at both the state and federal level. It was in the works for years before anyone had heard of the Center for Medical Progress, and it is not specific to Planned Parenthood. (In fact, the most notorious late-term abortionists are affiliated with independent abortion businesses; think Leroy Carhart and Kermit Gosnell.)

We are pushing forward despite opposition from the White House because this is an opportunity to hold Obama and his allies in Congress accountable for their extreme pro-abortion stance. Remember, President Clinton vetoed the partial-birth abortion ban twice before it finally passed under Bush, and it took several more years to get through the Supreme Court. The same persistence is needed here.

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