Congress will take a stance next week on whether federal law should protect unborn babies who feel pain.
On Tuesday, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., scheduled a floor vote for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. If passed, the bill would outlaw abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy—where studies show children begin to feel pain.
The House passed similar legislation two years ago but it hit a roadblock in the Senate. Enough pro-life lawmakers sit in the House to pass it again next week, but its chances in the Senate have not improved. Even without support in the upper chamber, the bill’s backers say it’s worth pursuing.
“I welcome every member of the House and the Senate to unite together and say that when children can feel pain, when you can see their noses and ears, when you can hear their heartbeats and feel their movement—at the very least we can all agree these children should be protected,” McCarthy said at a press conference earlier this week.
McCarthy said he’s started courting senators and has seen some interest in taking up the bill if the House advances it. He told me he encountered no delay in scheduling a House vote: “It was regular order all the way through.”
Republicans outnumber Democrats in the Senate 52-48, well short of the 60 votes they would need to end debate and force floor action.
In 2015, pro-abortion Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine voted with Democrats to block the bill, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, decided not to vote at all. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia was the only Democrat to support the pro-life bill.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, told me she expects nothing has changed for Collins and Murkowski but insisted it’s important for constituents to see their representatives take a public stance on the issue.
Grassroots pro-life activists already are on the ground in states across the country canvassing for the bill, and Dannenfelser claims Democrats in red states will feel the pressure.
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., claimed during her campaign in 2012 she opposed late-term abortion, but she voted against the pain-capable bill three years later.
“Maybe between then and now she has grown,” Dannenfelser said.
Regardless of the outcome, McCarthy said Congress should vote on the bill because it seeks to protect life.
Twenty states have passed similar laws to block late-term abortions. As prenatal care and medical technology continue to improve, many more babies are able to survive after being born close to the 20-week mark.
Delivered at exactly 20 weeks, Micah Pickering had eyes fused shut and brittle bones but he survived. His mother spent four months by his side in the neonatal intensive care unit.
Micah, now a healthy 5-year-old, joined his parents, McCarthy, and other pro-life advocates at a press conference this week announcing the vote. He offered a living example of the life the pain-capable bill seeks to protect.
Courtesy: WORLD News Service
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: October 2, 2017