Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Resolution 36, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act by a vote of 237-189. This legislation, sponsored by Congressman Trent Franks (AZ-08), has 182 co-sponsors, 22 of whom are Texas House members. This is the third time the House has introduced and passed this legislation. In the past, the measure has been defeated in the Senate following House passage.
HR 36 would provide nationwide protection to most preborn children who are capable of feeling pain. The bill would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks, except in the cases of rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother. This 20-week limit is not an arbitrarily chosen timeframe: Extensive scientific evidence has shown that by at least 20 weeks, preborn babies have the physical characteristics in place to feel pain.
The science of preborn pain is undeniable. These babies suffer intense pain when they are killed through abortion. Such late abortions are committed using several methods, one of which is the barbaric practice of dismemberment abortion, in which the child is gruesomely ripped apart limb from limb and left to bleed to death in utero. These late abortions are not rare and are frequently underreported. Supporters of HR 36 are using #TheyFeelPain to emphasize that this prohibition on abortions after 20 weeks is not only about valuing preborn Life, but is also about protecting fellow vulnerable humans from suffering extreme pain as they are killed in utero through abortion.
Texas and 15 other states have already implemented similar legislation to protect pain-capable preborn babies. This Pro-Life policy was part of Texas’ House Bill 2, the Pro-Life Omnibus bill passed in 2013, and was the only part of the legislation to consistently remain in effect. Additionally, during this year’s legislative session, Texas passed the Dismemberment Abortion Ban as an amendment to Senate Bill 8, outlawing this gruesome dismemberment abortion technique.
Each state and our federal government have a compelling state interest in preserving and promoting Life, especially for the preborn. Abortion is not similar to any medical procedure because the procedure’s goal is the death of an individual human being. As HR 36 now heads to the Senate for consideration, there is still much to be done to protect Life in our country, and in Texas. Although our state already protects preborn babies from abortion after 20 weeks, there is still an exception to this prohibition for babies diagnosed in utero with disabilities. However, the passage of this bill by Congress is an important step toward protecting Life and promoting the value of Life in our culture. Texas Right to Life celebrates U.S. Congress following in Texas’ footsteps, once again.