The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on H.R. 1797, the “District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” which aims to ban abortions after 20 weeks – the accepted time when pain is felt by the baby.
The bill, which was sponsored and introduced by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), was originally to affect only the District of Columbia. But on May 17, Franks announced that he plans to amend the bill to apply nationwide, citing the effects of the Gosnell case. From his press release:
The case of Kermit Gosnell shocked the sensibilities of millions of Americans. However, the crushing fact is that abortions on babies just like the ones killed by Kermit Gosnell have been happening hundreds of times per day, every single day, for the past 40 years. Indeed, let us not forget that, had Kermit Gosnell dismembered these babies before they had traveled down the birth canal only moments earlier, he would have, in many places nationwide, been performing an entirely legal procedure. If America truly understands that horrifying reality, hearts and laws will change.
So far, the very existence of the bill, which is miles away from having a serious chance, has ruffled feathers on the pro-abortion side. The Huffington Post, NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and Salon have already complained about the horrors of protecting unborn babies from painful deaths.
The pro-abortion side also brings up the fact that the mother’s life might be endangered. Fair enough, but as Dr. Anthony Levatino, a witness at the hearing who specializes in obstetrics and gynecology, pointed out, abortion is rarely if ever necessary to save the woman’s life. Using the example of a woman whose pregnancy was literally going to kill her and her baby, he said he performed a Cesarean section, saving both lives.
Levantino also notes that an abortion during the mid-second trimester takes around 36 hours, and dilation and extraction (also known as a partial-birth) abortions take three days to complete – which “would entail undue and dangerous delay in providing appropriate, truly life-saving care,” since during cases when a mother’s life is threatened, “a doctor more often than not doesn’t have 36 hours, much less 72 hours, to resolve the problem.”
Dr. Maureen L. Condic, another witness at the hearing, focused on the heart of the issue – that pain is indeed felt by babies by 20 weeks of pregnancy. In fact, she says that “the neural structures necessary to detect noxious stimuli are in place by 8-10 weeks of human development.” With that in mind, the fact that there is a chance the babies can feel pain is enough for her to support the bill. From her statement:
Imposing pain on any pain-capable living creature is cruelty. And ignoring the pain experienced by another human individual for any reason is barbaric. We don’t need to know if a human fetus is self-reflective or even self-aware to afford it the same consideration we currently afford other pain-capable species. We simply have to decide whether we will choose to ignore the pain of the fetus or not.
What a sick world this is that we have to even debate a bill that is asking to ban abortions if the baby feels pain. Besides, one of the most widely touted “facts” is the alleged low number of late-term abortions (remember there is no law requiring abortions to be registered). If that number is true, then this would only affect that small 1.5 percent. That still gives the pro-abortion side legal access to 98.5 percent of abortions.
But because of how the Gosnell case endangers abortion, this bill, and the very fact that it could be considered, is enough to terrify the pro-abortion side. It questions the unquestionable: Roe v. Wade, which declared abortion legal until the baby is “viable.” This bill goes beyond viability.