(Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)
Members of the House voted 228 to 196 Tuesday evening to pass Rep. Trent Franks' (R-Ariz.) "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act" that would place a federal limit on late-term abortions after 20 weeks, six to nine months of pregnancy, except in circumstances of rape, incest or if the mother faces a medical emergency that would require the termination of her pregnancy.
Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), co-sponsor of the H.R. 1797, authored by Franks, briefly broke down in tears on the House floor Tuesday afternoon following her Democratic colleagues' arguments against the bill that would ban abortions in the United States after 20 weeks gestation, if it passes the Senate and is signed into law by President Obama, who has already threatened to veto the bill.
In her comments, Foxx said she's asking God to transform the hearts and minds of those who are fighting in support of abortion. "It's difficult for me to describe this procedure," she said. "It's unconscionable in America, where we fight for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, that we tolerate the systematic annihilation of an entire generation."
"The government has a legitimate interest in protecting the life of the fetus," Foxx added. "I'm troubled by the fact that so many of my colleagues refuse to acknowledge that we are dealing with human life."
Rep. John Fleming, (R-La.), a doctor who said he's delivered hundreds of babies, mentioned that the popular 4D ultrasound gives physicians and patients a new view of a baby's development in the womb. "We have such wonderful technology today that we can do surgery on a baby at 20 weeks, and we've learned that babies in the womb feel pain, so we have to provide anesthesia. At 20 weeks, maybe sooner, the baby can feel pain," he said, noting that abortion laws in Washington, D.C., for example, allow abortionists to perform the procedure in the third trimester of pregnancy up-to full term.
Quoting from a report provided by Dr. Kanwaljeet Anand, a pediatrician who specializes in the care of critically ill newborns and children, with 20 years of research studying the development of pain and stress in newborns and babies in the womb, Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), cited Anand's scientific research, which shows that babies feel pain in the womb at 20 weeks. He asked his colleagues if they are willing to "embrace cruelty in the name of choice?"
"We are not absolved of the guilt for ignoring their pain," Bridenstine said.
Speaking in favor of the bill, Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) noted that the U.S. is one among nine countries that does not restrict abortion after 14 weeks, including China and North Korea. Citing a recent Gallup poll, Smith said that "80 percent of Americans are opposed to abortions in the third trimester, and 64 percent are opposed to abortions in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. We are not living in the dark ages," the congressman said about the graphic methods abortionists use to kill babies during late-term abortion procedures.
According to Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), the belief that babies feel pain in the womb is simply "a new idea" that is unproven. Likewise, Slaughter argued that men shouldn't be voting on the bill, because "no man ever faces rape or incest."
Slaughter also contended that the men on the Judiciary Committee who moved the bill forward to the House are "white guys" who are continuing their "war on women." She added that in 18 states, women are required to "undergo an ultrasound if they want to have an abortion." Slaughter lamented that members of the Judiciary Committee "are acting as though they are the deciders," and said they have "an anti-choice agenda and like to play doctor."
Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) is among the lawmakers who opposed the 20-week abortion ban, and spoke out against it on the House floor by saying that women who have high blood pressure, kidney infections or eclampsia during pregnancy seek counsel from their priests, rabbis and imams regarding whether they should have an abortion, which she said "they need for their healthcare." Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif), the House minority leader, shared similar sentiments and said the bill is "unsafe for families," and added the bill "won't create jobs."
House Democrats who spoke out against the bill also mentioned that if women are denied access to late-term abortions, they will be inhibited from having families in the future.
Exasperated by her Democratic colleagues' opposition to the bill, Foxx reminded House members that they were "talking about the sixth month of pregnancy;" and emphasized that the bill would not prohibit abortionists from performing the procedure during the first through fifth months of pregnancy.