June 20, 2013
Congress Limits Abortion to 20
By Mike McManus
“It was the first time in 10 years that we
have had a good vote in the House of Representatives on
abortion. We see this as a big step forward,” declared Carol
Tobias, President of National Right to Life.
By a vote of 228 to 196, largely along party lines, the House
voted to ban abortions starting at 20 weeks of pregnancy. While
the Senate is unlikely to vote on the bill, and President Obama
pledged to veto it if passed – it will reverberate politically
over the next year and a half as Republicans and Democrats
appeal to voters in special elections this year and in the 2014
Nine states have already passed similar laws – Nebraska, Kansas,
Idaho, Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Arkansas and North
Dakota. This national bill, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child
Protection Act, “will encourage other states to pass similar
legislation, because they now have national support,” asserted
Anna Higgins, Family Research Council Director of the Center for
Authored by Rep. Trent Franks, the bill aims to capitalize on
the public outrage surrounding Dr. Kermit Gosnell, the
Philadelphia abortionist who was convicted last month of first
degree murder in the cases of three babies born alive in his
clinic, whose necks were cut.
He argued he simply “snipped” the necks of babies who should
have been aborted. I asked in this column last month, “Why is
the snipping of the neck of a newborn any more horrific than
dismembering a child of similar age in the womb?”
The difference between murder and a legal abortion is only six
inches. Why is it legal to kill a baby of 24 weeks gestation in
the womb who can survive outside – but murder if the 24-week
baby is delivered and then killed?
The House bill differs in only one respect. It sets the limit at
20 weeks when the fetus is able to experience pain, according to
Prof. Maureen Condic, Ph.D. of Neurology and Anatomy at the
University of Utah School of Medicine.
Other physicians question whether a fetus of 20 weeks, whose
cortex is not yet functioning, can experience pain. However,
fetal surgeons who operate on unborn children “have found it
necessary to sedate the unborn child with anesthesia to prevent
the unborn child from engaging in vigorous movement in reaction
to invasive surgery,” the bill stated.
Congress’s vote this week is the first time it has redefined the
point at which the fetus becomes viable.
In the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, abortions can be
performed until the point when a doctor determines a fetus’s
viability, which was generally defined as 24 weeks of gestation.
After that point, the government can prohibit the procedure.
“I am appalled by the savage practice of late-term abortion,”
said Rep. Michele Bachmann, Minnesota Republican, as she stood
next to an ultrasound photo of a 20-week-old unborn child on the
The bill allows three exceptions to the 20-week threshold – if
the mother’s life is threatened or the pregnancy is the result
of rape or incest of a minor, if reported to police.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) who managed the legislation for the
Democrats on the House floor, called the bill “an unconscionable
attack on our constitutional freedoms.”
Rep. Virginia Foxx, North Carolina Republican, countered “Nobody
takes the issue of abortion lightly, but unfortunately not
enough attention is being paid to the unborn child.”
However, Democrats argued the bill was a repeat of the 2012 GOP
campaign which Democrats called a “War on Women,” For example,
Rep. Frederica Wilson, Florida Democrat, argued, “First of all,
it is the woman’s body, not yours. She alone bears the burden,
the pain and joy that it brings. Please stop trying to regulate
our reproductive organs. They belong to us.”
To counter such charges, female Republicans argued for the bill
led by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) who noted that she became
a nurse over 40 years ago, and asserted, “A woman seeking an
abortion at 20 weeks is 35 times more likely to die from an
abortion than she was in the first trimester,” and up to 91
times more apt to die in later abortions.
Thus, despite the claim by Democrats to be concerned about
women’s health, the Republican position is demonstrably more
concerned about the mother’s health – as well as with the life
of her unborn child.
Scripture, my yardstick for distinguishing right from wrong, is
clear: “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those
staggering toward slaughter.” (Proverbs 24:11).
30+ Years / 1700+ Columns
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Norma McCorvey Roe of Roe v. Wade
The Worst Valentine: Cohabitation
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same sex marriage,
abortion and infanticide,