Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), along with a third of his colleagues as co-sponsors, has introduced in the US Senate a bill to protect children from abortion starting at 20-weeks of fetal age ("22 weeks LMP").
The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act has already been passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, has been enacted in 10 states, and enjoys the support of close to two-thirds of the American public. This legislation identifies the child's ability to feel pain as the relevant state interest in protecting that child from dismemberment by abortion.
Now it's time to work to get the Senate to bring this bill to a vote, and to introduce the debate to the general public and urge them to communicate with their Senators about it. This is a top priority for Priests for Life, which has been calling for a focus on late-term abortion for many years.
Of course, one of the first things opponents will try to do is to start talking about "hard cases" of parents who find out late in pregnancy that their children have terrible deformities. But before we even explain that these children deserve protection too (just like they have after birth), we need to focus people on the reality of who these babies are, the reality of the violence that abortion represents, and the question as to whether healthy babies of healthy mothers should continue to be dismembered legally in the womb.
The Alan Guttmacher Institute, which is the best source for abortion statistics in the United States, reports, “Sixty-four percent of [abortion] providers offer at least some second-trimester abortion services (13 weeks or later), and 23% offer abortion after 20 weeks. …11% of all abortion providers offer abortions at 24 weeks.” The institute also indicates that of the approximately 1.2 million abortions in the United States each year, some 18,150 are performed at 21 weeks or more. Of the 40 states that reported in 2005 to the Centers for Disease Control, 32 states reported abortions of babies 21 weeks or older.
This means that every day in America, 50 babies the size of a large banana are dismembered and decapitated – and these include healthy babies of healthy mothers…and it’s happening legally.
These are babies that the mother can already feel moving. According to MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, these babies are storing fat on their bodies, their heartbeat can be heard with a stethoscope, they can hear, they have eyebrows, eyelashes, fingernails and toenails. Incidentally, MedlinePlus calls them “babies.” (See www.nlm.nih.gov/MEDLINEPLUS/ency/article/002398.htm
I took part in a meeting of Senator Graham with other pro-life leaders the day before he introduced the bill. We all agreed with the Senator when he said that this is the next chapter in the effort to end abortion. It is. And just like the decade-long effort to ban partial-birth abortion, this will take time. The goal right now is to force the vote in the Senate. Raise the issue. Get people on the record about it. Start the debate. It is one that we will win -- and so will the babies.