One of the nation's leading pro-life groups is cautioning against the passage of a federal 15-week abortion ban, arguing that such legislation falls short of what is achievable, would divide the movement and would only impact about 5 percent of abortions.
Life Legal Defense Foundation issued the statement this week as pro-life and Republican politicians nationwide debate what legislation should be pushed in the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Several GOP politicians have backed a federal 15-week abortion ban proposal. Former president Donald Trump has floated 15 weeks as a potential compromise between the two sides.
"While we are grateful for all restrictions on the killing of innocent children, a 15-week federal ban poses critical problems," Life Legal Defense Foundation said in its statement. "... Pro-life states have enacted abortion restrictions much more stringent – and effective – than stopping abortion at 15 weeks."
A federal 15-week ban would place "tremendous pressure on those states to water down their existing life-saving measures in favor of a de facto' consensus' position," the organization said.
Further, Life Legal said, "95 percent of abortions are performed before 15 weeks." The headline for the statement said a 15-week ban is "not a good idea."
"Again, we support any effort to save lives, but a 15-week ban is not the silver bullet to ending abortion it is touted as. The overwhelming majority of abortions in this country would still be completely legal under a 15-week ban."
Other reasons cited in the statement included:
"This is not the right time to return abortion to the federal government. We are currently fighting off efforts to re-federalize abortion through deadly bills like the Women's Health Protection Act, which would create a federal right to abortion throughout pregnancy. Floating a 15-week ban only fuels the zeal of pro-aborts to codify Roe."
"By promoting a federal 15-week abortion ban, the pro-life movement is forcing candidates to commit to the position that Congress has the constitutional authority to regulate abortion at the state level. Many truly pro-life candidates sincerely believe that the Constitution does not give Congress that power. Branding these principled limited-government conservatives as insufficiently pro-life is divisive and harms the movement."
"Focusing on a 15-week ban that would stop only a small fraction of abortions takes attention away from other steps the federal government could take to curtail abortions, such as disrupting the interstate flow of the abortion drugs that are now used in more than 50 percent of abortions."
A baby at 15 weeks is four to six and a half inches long, with arms, legs and organs, the statement said.
"Babies at 15 weeks and earlier can possibly feel pain. Human life should be protected from conception on, but even in states where we can only achieve incremental abortion restrictions, 15 weeks is too far," the statement said. "For these reasons, we believe support for a federal 15-week abortion ban should not be a litmus test for pro-life candidates – or anyone else for that matter."
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.
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