Senator Lindsey Graham to Introduce Nationwide Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

This week, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) will introduce landmark legislation to provide nationwide protection for unborn children who are capable of feeling pain, beginning at 20 weeks fetal age (equivalent to “22 weeks of pregnancy,” the beginning of the sixth month).

“Ten states have already enacted the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, and it is National Right to Life’s top congressional priority,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life, the federation of state right-to-life organizations. “We commend Sen. Lindsey Graham for his leadership in bringing the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act before the Senate.”

“The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is perhaps the most significant piece of pro-life legislation to come before the U.S. Congress since the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in 2007,” added Susan T. Muskett, J.D., National Right to Life senior legislative counsel.

The legislation, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, is based on a National Right to Life model bill that has already been enacted in ten states, most recently in Texas where the law took effect on October 30. The U.S. House of Representatives approved the federal bill June 18, 2013, by a 228-196 vote.

In a letter issued late yesterday, leaders of National Right to Life encouraged pro-life members of the U.S. Senate to sign on as co-sponsors of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.

Writing to senators, National Right to Life leaders observed:

Because of coverage surrounding the trial of Kermit Gosnell and subsequent revelations about other abortionists, many Americans are becoming aware for the first time that abortions are frequently performed late in pregnancy, on babies who are capable of being born alive, and on babies who will experience great pain while being killed.

In a nationwide poll of 1,003 registered voters in March, The Polling Company found that 64% would support a law such as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act prohibiting abortion after 20 weeks — when an unborn baby can feel pain — unless the life of the mother is in danger. Only 30% opposed such legislation. Women voters split 63%-31% in support of such a law, and 63% of independent voters supported it.

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would allow abortion after 20 weeks post-fertilization if the mother’s life is endangered, or in cases of rape and incest reported prior to the abortion to appropriate authorities.

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act contains congressional findings of fact regarding the medical evidence that unborn children experience pain at least by 20 weeks “post-fertilization age,” or the start of the sixth month of pregnancy. Note: 20 weeks post-fertilization age (“fetal age”) is equivalent to “22 weeks of pregnancy” in the widely employed “LMP” dating system.

Some of the extensive evidence that unborn children have the capacity to experience pain, at least by 20 weeks fetal age, is available on the NRLC website.

Late abortions are not “rare.” NRLC estimates that at least 140 abortion providers offer abortions past the point that this legislation would permit. These late abortions are performed using a variety of techniques, including a method in which the unborn child’s arms and legs are twisted off by brute manual force, using a long stainless steel clamping tool.

“The American public understands the vital importance of protecting pain-capable unborn children from the violent act of a dismemberment abortion,” Tobias observed.

National Right to Life Committee

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