WASHINGTON (July 9, 2012)/National Right to Life Committee --
The U.S. House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a voting session for tomorrow (Tuesday, July 10) on an NRLC-backed bill that would protect unborn children in the federal District after they have reached 20 weeks fetal age, based on their capacity to experience pain.
The bill, the District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 3803), is patterned on an NRLC-originated model bill that has already been enacted in seven states. It currently has 210 House cosponsors. Identical legislation (S. 2103), introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), currently has 30 cosponsors.
"In the nation's capital, abortion is now legal, for any reason, until the moment of birth," said NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson. "The District Council, employing authority delegated by Congress, repealed the entire abortion law. Members of Congress, and the President, are ultimately accountable for this extreme policy, because the Constitution says that Congress shall "exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District . . .' A vote against this bill amounts to a vote to ratify the current policy of legal abortion, for any reason, until the moment of birth."
H.R. 3803 was introduced by Congressman Trent Franks (R-Az.). In the bill, Congress adopts "findings" (declarations of fact) that by 20 weeks after fertilization (if not earlier), the unborn child has the capacity to experience great pain. The bill then prohibits abortion after that point, except when an acute physical condition endangers the life of the mother. Expert testimony was presented at a May 17 hearing on the bill showing that at 20 weeks fetal age, 6 percent of infants born spontaneously now survive long term in good neo-natal units. The long-term survival rates are 26% at 21 weeks fetal age and 55% at 22 weeks fetal age. (To convert to the alternate "LMP" dating system, add two weeks to each figure.)
The NRLC website contains much documentation on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and on the scientific evidence that unborn children, by 20 weeks if not before, have the capacity to experience great pain, here. The abortion method most often used at this stage, the "D&E," is depicted in a medical illustration posted here.