Editor’s note. Three states have already introduced the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act this session: South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.
COLUMBIA, S.C. – On Thursday, January 22, the 42nd anniversary of the lethal Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, a South Carolina House panel unanimously voted in favor of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.
H31114 recognize a new, compelling state interest and would generally protect unborn children from abortion beginning at 20 weeks fetal age, based on medical evidence that by that point, if not earlier, the unborn child experiences pain when subjected to dismemberment or other late abortion methods.
H31114 won 5-0 bi-partisan support after the S.C. House Judiciary Subcommittee on General and Family Law heard testimony from three local pro-life physicians and accepted written statements from other expert supporters who could not attend.
The bill moved on to the full House Judiciary Committee scheduled to meet Tuesday afternoon.
Dr. Stuart Hamilton, M.D., a Columbia University trained pediatrician and long-time supporter of pro-life legislation, described fetal development for members of the committee. He said he agrees with scientific research demonstrating the unborn child can feel pain at 20 weeks after fertilization, if not earlier.
“There is evidence for the probable appreciation of pain by 20 weeks gestation after fertilization,” Dr. Hamilton told the subcommittee. “Anatomically at 20 weeks, the examination of the nervous system displays the appropriate tracks in the central nervous system and the peripheral nerve fibers that are designed to transmit and carry pain impulses.” He went on to explain that at the age of 16 weeks, the baby’s body shows “substantial neurological maturation.” Even at 12 weeks, he said, “The immature constituents of these pathways are clearly visible with magnification.”
A father-son team of physicians also spoke in favor of the bill. Dr. Tom Austin, M.D., a retired neonatologist, and former director of Neonatology at the USC School of Medicine, defined pain as “a noxious insult that one attempts to avoid or repel.” In his practice he treated babies prematurely born at 18 to 22 weeks. “They did show response to stimuli,” he said. “They would respond, move, recoil.”
His son, also Dr. Tom Austin, M.D, is an obstetrician-gynecologist who practices in the Columbia area. He described his experience with delivering pre-mature infants: “I agree with my father. You can see the baby is trying to live.”
He also criticized the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a national organization that supports abortion-on-demand. He described ACOG as being closely tied to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion business. Dr. Austin said he is not affiliated with ACOG and instead has joined the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
South Carolina Citizens for Life, the state affiliate of the National Right to Life Committee which developed the model pain-capable legislation, the Catholic Diocese of Charleston, the South Carolina Baptist Convention, the Palmetto Family Council, and the North Greenville Christian World View Center are among the organizations supporting the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.
Meanwhile in the nation’s capital, the U.S. House of Representatives easily passed the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (HR 7) but failed to vote on the federal Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection act.
“The House of Representatives did not pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act [last] week because certain lawmakers who voted for the same language in 2013, and who had promised their pro-life constituents that they would do so again, instead worked to weaken the bill or to prevent it from coming to the floor,” said NRLC President Carol Tobias.
“While we are profoundly disappointed that the vote on the bill was delayed, we much prefer delaying the vote to passing a greatly weakened bill,” Tobias said. “We thank the House Republican leadership for quickly facilitating passage of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 7) which is another National Right to Life legislative priority.”
The House passed H.R. 7 today by a vote of 242-17