On Tuesday afternoon, cheers erupted from the public gallery when the U.S. House of Representatives announced that the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act passed by a vote of 237-189. The measure would penalize providers who attempt to abort lives in the womb at 20 weeks post-fertilization or after.
Many members cited research regarding how the developing baby feels pain by that point in development. Statistical trends indicate that these late-term abortions represent one percent of the total performed annually, approximately 15,000 lives.
The vote proceeded on party lines, with a few exceptions. Two Republican members (Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania and Rodney Frelinghuysen of New York) voted against the anti-abortion measure, and three self-described pro-life Democrats cast their vote in support: Henry Cuellar (Texas), Daniel Lipinski (Illinois), and Collin Peterson (Minnesota).
President Donald Trump released a statement in support of the pro-life policy. To be signed into law by the president, the Pain-Capable bill must pass a vote of the U.S. Senate where the balance of power has not proven as favorable to pro-life legislation. The vote was one of several significant events on Capitol Hill this week.
Dozens of Members of Congress rose in support of the bill, called “the most pro-life legislation ever to come before this body.” Five leaders delivered remarks that were particularly impassioned, reflecting the convictions of their constituents across the nation.
Rep. Martha Roby –Montgomery, Alabama
“My question to those who would oppose this bill is this,” began Congresswoman Roby. “What’s the difference between a baby born at six months outside the womb, and a baby at six months inside the womb? How can one be treated like a miracle they’re created to be, and the other treated like medical waste?”
Speaker Paul Ryan – Janesville, Wisconsin
“The science is in, and the science is real,” stated Speaker Paul Ryan, the top-ranking elected official among the 435 voting House members. “At 20 weeks old, ultrasound images reveal that unborn babies respond to unwanted stimuli, to pain, the same exact way as adults do: they recoil, they contract.”
Rep. Mia Love – Salt Lake City, Utah
“I rise today as an American, as a wife, and mainly as a mother to address some of the double standards that we have in this country,” said Love. “When does the unborn have a right to protection just like their mother?”
She continued, “Why is abortion not considered murder and killing a pregnant woman [deemed] a double homicide? Each human life should be protected under the rule of law.”
Rep. Trent Franks – Peoria, Arizona
The lead sponsor and tireless advocate for the Pain Capable bill, Congressman Franks opened his speech by quoting Thomas Jefferson, who said, “The care of human life and its happiness, and not its destruction, is the chief and only object of good governance.”
Franks also pointed to the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which states: “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.”
Rep. Karen Handel – Roswell, Georgia
“This is a good bill, it is a just bill,” said Congresswoman Handel as debate on the bill closed after an hour. She recently won a highly contested special election in Georgia, wherein Planned Parenthood’s political action arm spent $735,000 on behalf of her defeated opponent.
“It is a moral bill to do what we are called—not just as Americans, but called as human beings: to protect the lives of the most innocent,” Handel concluded.
Freelance writer Josh Shepherd covers culture and public policy issues for media outlets including The Stream, The Federalist and Christian Headlines. He previously worked on staff at The Heritage Foundation and Focus on the Family. Josh and his wife live in the Washington D.C. area. Follow @joshmshep on Twitter.
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Publication date: October 4, 2017