What the 20-week ban on abortion is really about

On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 242 to 184 to ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The vote on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act was mainly decided along party lines, with one member voting present. Four Republicans and four Democrats, however, broke party rank, and cast ballots contrary to the majority of their colleagues.

With the bill now headed to the Senate, some are labeling the late-term abortion ban as “unconstitutional.” Arguing against the ban, some members of Congress had harsh words to say about the bill, referring to typical pro-abortion talking points in their rebuttals.

However, it is worthwhile to dissect what the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is really about: this bill protects preborn children who have been growing and developing in their mother’s wombs for five months. They can feel pain.

Science tells us that life begins at conception. This is not religious dogma, as some opponents of the bill consider it to be. On this basis, abortion should be banned from the very start. However, we do not live in a political landscape where an outright ban on abortion is acceptable to many voters. Thus, it helps to save as many babies as we can from abortion, when we can, and it does well to start with those who can feel excruciating pain – a kind of pain which, according to some researchers, is felt more prominently by the preborn than older children or adults.

Rep. Diane Black (R-TN), who co-sponsored the bill, admits that “[i]n truth, this is just a modest, compassionate bill that does not in any way change abortion law for the first five months of pregnancy.” That’s a pretty good summary.

Unfortunately, many who opposed the bill during the floor debate did not believe so. Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), almost from the start of his speech, called out pro-life members of Congress for trying to ban all abortions. He claimed “…Republican colleagues have no interest in preventing abortions after 20 weeks. Motivation behind H.R. 36 couldn’t be more transparent. They want to make abortion after 20 weeks illegal and abortions before 20 weeks impossible.”

However, the pro-life argument swayed more members, and the bill passed.

Rep. Deutch and all others who oppose this ban must realize that the United States is one of seven nations in the world that permits abortions after 20 weeks. The United States is one of only of four nations in the world that allows abortions up until birth, for any reason. Members of Congress must awaken to this grave human rights injustice.

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is a step in the right direction – and that is something worth celebrating. Those who defend human rights were able to come together and agree that pain-capable preborn babies ought to be legally protected.


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