WASHINGTON – This week, Idaho is expected to become the latest state to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. Yesterday, the Idaho state House of Representatives, by a 54-14 vote, approved the bill backed by the state’s Senate chamber, and it is expected to be signed by the Governor as early as today. Also yesterday, the Oklahoma state Senate voted 38-8 to pass similar legislation, and it is expected to have full passage and a Governor’s signature as early as next week. Kansas, having passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act in late March, will have their bill signed by Governor Sam Brownback on April 12th. The bills are modeled after legislation enacted last year by the Nebraska legislature.

(Left to right) Burke J. Balch, J.D., Director of NRLC's Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics, Mary Spaulding Balch, J.D., Director of NRLC State Legislation Department, and Julie Schmit-Albin, Executive Director of Nebraska RTL.

“The science behind the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is sound, and when faced with the evidence, state legislatures recognize their responsibility to protect these smallest members of our society,” said Mary Spaulding Balch, J.D., director of state legislation for the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC).  “For several years, we have seen a growing trend of state legislatures moving to enact legislation that aids mothers and protects their unborn children. ”

The model Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, drafted by NRLC’s state legislation department, protects the life of the pain-capable unborn child at the point that they can feel pain (which is when the best, documented scientific evidence indicates to be 20 weeks after fertilization) except when the mother “has a condition which so complicates her medical condition as to necessitate the abortion of her pregnancy to avert death or to avert serious risk of substantial or irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function or…it is necessary to preserve the life of an unborn child.”  Further documentation and links to the scientific studies can be found at:

Many other states are also following the lead of Nebraska, Kansas, Idaho and Oklahoma. Today, there is a committee hearing being held on the bill in Oregon, it has been introduced in Massachusetts, and it is on the house floor in Minnesota and Alabama.

“The passage of pro-life legislation by state legislatures across the country reflects the shift we’ve seen in our culture. Most Americans are firmly opposed to the vast majority of abortions,” said Spaulding Balch. “Life-affirming laws such as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act demonstrate both the state’s compelling interest in the lives of unborn children and the public’s support for life-saving, protective laws.”

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