Republicans Waste No Time Introducing Pro-Life Legislation in New Congress; New Pain-Capable Bill Would Prevent Abortions After 20 Weeks

A pro-life campaigner holds up a model of a 12-week-old embryo during a protest outside the Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast October 18, 2012.
A pro-life campaigner holds up a model of a 12-week-old embryo during a protest outside the Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast October 18, 2012. | (Photo: Reuters/Cathal McNaughto)

With two House Republicans introducing a bill on Tuesday that would ban legal abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, the GOP has wasted little time in introducing pro-life legislation that is likely to be voted on in the Senate with Republicans now controlling both houses.

The bill, which was sponsored by Rep. Ted Franks, R-Ariz., and Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., is called the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and is similar to a bill of the same name that passed the House last year, which also banned abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy but stalled in the Democrat-contolled Senate.

"More than 18,000 'very late term' abortions are performed every year on perfectly healthy unborn babies in America," Franks asserted in a statement to Life News. "These are innocent and defenseless children who can not only feel pain, but who can survive outside the womb in most cases, and who are torturously killed without even basic anesthesia,"

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According to the National Right to Life Coalition, 10 states have already passed similar legislation modeled by NRLC. Franks added that that since these unborn babies at this stage of pregnancy can feel pain, and often cry, voting for this bill should be common sense and opponents of the bill do not have valid arguments for the defense of late term abortions.

"Many of them cry and scream as they die, but because it is amniotic fluid going over their vocal cords instead of air, we don't hear them," Franks said. "Later term abortion in America has its defenders, but no true or principled defense. The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act seeks to afford basic protection to mothers and their unborn babies entering the sixth month of gestation."

Although Franks said this bill would "protect mothers," opponents claim this bill would harm the health of mothers.

"I would call this an outright ban on really critical health care that women need," Talcott Camp, deputy director of the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project, told Refinery29. "[The Republicans] have got their priorities all wrong. They should be thinking about how to improve health care in this country — [not about how] they can wrest this decision away from a woman and her doctor."

According to a national poll by The Polling Company, 64 percent of Americans would support a law that bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, unless the mother's life is in danger, if they knew that the unborn baby could feel pain.

Dr. Maureen Condic, associate professor of Neurobiology and an adjunct professor of pediatrics at the University of Utah School of Medicine, testified before Congress in 2013 and said that babies are capable of feeling pain as early as 8 to 10 weeks into pregnancy.

Dr. Steven Zielinski, a physician who is one of the leading researchers that specializes on the concept of fetal pain who also testified before Congress, said that unborn children can feel pain as early as "eight-and-a-half weeks and possibly earlier," and that most unborn babies are fully capable of feeling pain in a little over 13 weeks of pregnancy.

Zielinski and his colleagues wrote: "Functioning neurological structures necessary for pain sensation are developed as early as 8 weeks, but certainly by 13 ½ weeks of gestation. Sensory nerves, including nociceptors, reach the skin of the fetus before the 9th week of gestation. The first detectable brain activity occurs in the thalamus between the 8th and 10th weeks … By 13 ½ weeks, the entire sensory nervous system functions as a whole in all parts of the body."

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who introduced a 20-week abortion ban last year in the Senate, plans to reintroduce the bill again in the Senate in the next few weeks, according to

Although the Republicans have control of both the House and Senate, President Barack Obama vowed in 2013 to veto a 20-week abortion ban legislation if such legislation is passed by Congress.

"The Franks-Blackburn bill is based on the NRLC model legislation that has been encated in 20 states, and it reflects a policy that is broadly supported in national public opinion polls," Douglas Johnson of the NRLC told Life News. "In the new Congress, every member of the House and Senate will go on record on whether to permit the continued killing of pain-capable unborn children, in the sixth month or later."

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