On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 36, the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” on a vote of 237-189. If enacted, this bill would criminalize abortion after twenty weeks of pregnancy except in cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother. While it’s similar to laws already in place in a few states, it’s also similar to federal bills that failed in 2013 and 2015.
The crucial difference between then and now, of course, is the Republican president in the White House—one who campaigned on an explicitly pro-life platform and has pledged to sign this bill. That means the only thing now standing between the Pain-Capable act and the president’s desk is the Senate—which is no small hurdle.
Why is this legislation so important? Well, as the name suggests, babies at twenty weeks of gestation have nervous systems developed enough to feel pain. Now, in a consistent pro-life worldview, functional abilities have nothing to do with human dignity, and so all abortions are wrong. But abortions conducted just two or three weeks prior to the current point of viability are particularly and obviously gruesome.
Chances are, you may have met someone who was born prematurely at around 24 weeks. Killing any child should be unthinkable, but just before viability? In fact, former abortionist Dr. Anthony Levatino explains how gruesome second trimester abortions are in a disturbing video for LiveAction. We’ve linked to it at BreakPoint.org, but I’ll tell you this much: It involves literally ripping a baby limb from limb.
On a purely political basis—and contrary to claims by Planned Parenthood and others—this bill is popular on both sides of the political aisle. A 2013 Gallup poll found just 27 percent of Americans think abortion should be legal after the first trimester of pregnancy which, by the way, ends at 12 weeks of gestation.
A Knights of Columbus poll in 2014 found an incredible 84 percent of Americans want to restrict abortion to the first three months of pregnancy or less! And—are you sitting down for this?—62 percent of those who are strongly pro-choice support a 20-week ban. These are folks who support paying for abortions with tax dollars. As Will Saletan at Slate admits, “even most pro-choice people aren’t sold” on killing babies within a hairs breadth of viability.
And this legislation would also moderate America’s extremely liberal federal abortion laws, making them more like those of other Western nations. Now, I’m no fan of modeling America after Europe as some are, but as Cassy Fiano explains in a video for Prager University, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, and France all heavily restrict or effectively ban abortions after the first trimester. Only seven other countries have abortion laws like America, and two of them are North Korea and China.
So, where’s our challenge? CNN reports that GOP Whip Senator John Cornyn of Texas, when asked whether his chamber would take up this legislation, said “That’s not a near-term priority.”
Say what? If ending abortion isn’t the reason pro-lifers vote overwhelmingly Republican, what is? Look, for too long we’ve heard lots of pro-life rhetoric on the GOP campaign trail, only to see the unborn take a backseat to other priorities in Washington.
So it’s time to send a clear message to Cornyn and other Senate Republicans: This is why your constituents elected you. Get busy.
And for Democratic senators, we say, “Look at the poll numbers. Listen to Americans. The majority of your voters—the pro-choice crowd—supports this legislation.” Listen to them, not to Planned Parenthood or the increasingly irrelevant abortion lobby. End this most grisly form of abortion now.
Now make no mistake—all abortion should be illegal. But this is a huge step in the right direction. Come to BreakPoint.org and we’ll help you get in touch with your U.S. senators. It’s their job to listen. And it’s our job to speak for those who can’t.
BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at BreakPoint.org where you can read and search answers to common questions.
John Stonestreet, the host of The Point, a daily national radio program, provides thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.
Publication date: October 5, 2017