By Karen Cross, National Right to Life Political Director
On May 13, 2015, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. H.R. 36 will extend federal protections to unborn children 20 weeks and older, who experience excruciating pain during abortion, and those who are born alive during late abortions. The vote was 242-184. Four Democrats voted in favor, and four Republicans voted against the legislation.
In January, President Obama threatened to veto the legislation, despite widespread public opinion in favor of it.
Where do announced and potential 2016 presidential candidates for the Republican nomination stand on late abortions?
FORMER GOVERNOR JEB BUSH
Jeb Bush served as governor of Florida from 1998 until 2007.
Governor Bush, in his own words:
I’m pleased to share my support of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which will prevent elective abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, protecting both unborn children and the health of pregnant women.
…It is right and just for a humane and compassionate society to act in the interests of these individuals to protect them from pain and suffering.
Life is precious – from beginning to end. The many atrocities revealed during the 2013 trial and conviction of Pennsylvania abortion provider Kermit Gosnell were beyond comprehension and a glaring reminder that much more must be done to protect innocent children after conception, through birth and beyond.
DR. BEN CARSON
Dr. Ben Carson is a retired, world-renowned neurosurgeon.
Dr. Carson, in his own words:
I am unabashedly and entirely pro-life. Human life begins at conception and innocent life must be protected.
As a pediatric neurosurgeon, I took the Hippocratic Oath to ‘First, Do No Harm.’ …As a surgeon, I have operated on infants pre-birth. I can assure you that they are very much alive.
…Children are our most precious resource and our efforts to protect them should know no bounds. I urge our legislators in Congress to swiftly vote on the legislation known as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. It is legislation that values life which in the end is what we are here for.
GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE
Chris Christie was first elected as governor of New Jersey in 2009.
Governor Christie, in his own words:
I am proud to be a pro-life Republican. I believe that every life is an individual gift from God, and that no life is disposable.
…One proposal that brings Americans together is the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act which would protect unborn children beginning at 20 weeks, or five months of pregnancy, based on their ability to feel pain. America is one of just seven countries that permits elective abortions past this point. We can do far better than this. I urge Congress to take swift action on this important issue.
SENATOR TED CRUZ
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tx.) has a 100% pro-life voting record, voting prolife four out of four times since joining the U.S. Senate in 2013. Cruz cosponsored S.1670, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, during the 113th Congress.
Senator Cruz, in his own words:
We are filled with grief for the nearly 57 million souls who will never have a chance to become the next teachers, artists, entrepreneurs, and heroes.
…I remain a strong supporter of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a measure that has overwhelming support of Texans and Americans and that is an important step in recognizing the sanctity of life.
No one can doubt the reasonableness of this legislation. We are a nation that models itself on a code of natural and human rights, which we believe are not the inheritance of a privileged few but the birthright of people everywhere. Yet today we are one of just seven countries worldwide to allow elective abortions after 20 weeks. The tragic truth is that in doing so we are in the company of counties with such atrocious track records no human rights as China and North Korea.
Carly Fiorina, formerly the C.E.O. of Hewlett Packard, ran a pro-life campaign for U.S. Senate from the state of California in 2010.
Ms. Fiorina, in her own words:
About sixty years ago, a decision was made that changed my life. My husband’s mother chose life. She was told that her pregnancy would be difficult and doctors told her she needed to have an abortion. Being a woman of intense faith and courage, my husband’s mother continued her pregnancy. I cannot imagine how different my life would be had she made a different choice.
Unfortunately, women are faced with this decision every day. These women deserve our empathy, support, and never our judgment or condemnation. They deserve options, ones that are available now more than ever due to advances in modern medicine.
Science supports those of us that believe in the sanctity of life. At 20 weeks, or five months into a pregnancy, an unborn child feels pain. At 20 weeks of life, an unborn child can suck his thumb, yawn, stretch, and make faces. An unborn child at 20 weeks IS a human life. The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act protects the unborn in limiting abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, it is legislation that is vital in protecting the dignity of life.
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who has a long pro-life voting record in Congress (U.S. House of Representatives 1995-2003, U.S. Senate 2003 to date). He is the lead sponsor of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act in the U.S. Senate.
Senator Graham, in his own words:
At twenty weeks, mothers are encouraged to speak and sing as the baby can recognize the voice of the mother. The question for the American people is, Should we be silent when it comes to protecting these unborn children entering the sixth month of pregnancy? Or is it incumbent on us to speak up and act on their behalf” I say we must speak up and act.
Science and technology have advanced tremendously since 1973. We now know that an unborn child at the twentieth week of pregnancy can feel pain. In fact, anesthesia is administered directly to unborn children in second trimester fetal surgery. Given these facts and my continued strong support for life, I believe there is a compelling interest in protecting these unborn children who are among the most vulnerable I our society. I’m confident that over time the American people and their elected representatives will say yes as well. The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is the new front in protecting the rights of the unborn. I’m very proud to be leading this charge.
FORMER GOVERNOR MIKE HUCKABEE
While governor of Arkansas (1996-2007), Mike Huckabee signed into law a bill requiring abortion providers to notify the mother that her unborn child may feel pain.
Regarding the current Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, Huckabee wrote:
I am writing to you today to wholeheartedly endorse the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act . . .This isn’t about politics; it is about life. Life that is precious and valuable. It is about the value of life in our country. If our nation continues to turn its back on the most vulnerable and the most innocent among us then we drift further and further away from that which made our nation a bright and beautiful one shining on a hill. Thank you for sponsoring this bill; its passage is an important step in the right direction for our nation.
GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL
Bobby Jindal was first elected governor of Louisiana in 2007. Prior to that, he served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2005 until 2008. While in the House, Jindal maintained a 100% pro-life voting record.
In June 2012, Governor Jindal signed SB 766, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. He said:
It is incumbent upon us to protect the weakest and most vulnerable among us, and these new laws will protect innocent human life.
In March 2014, Governor Jindal wrote to Senator Graham:
I commend you for authorizing and introducing S. 1670, the federal Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, in the U.S. Senate. This legislation is necessary for protecting unborn children nationwide, at 20 weeks or more postfertilization, from painful abortions.
GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH
John Kasich served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1983-2001, and was elected as governor of Ohio in 2010.
In Congress, Kasich voted in support of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.
Governor Kasich has signed many pro-life laws, including a law banning abortions after the point of viability in Ohio.
FORMER GOVERNOR GEORGE PATAKI
George Pataki served as governor of New York from 1995 until 2007. Pataki also served in the New York Assembly from 1985 until 1992, and in the New York state Senate from 1993 until 1995.
Pataki’s record on life is mixed. As a member of the state Assembly, he voted against state funding of abortions. In 1990, he changed his position to “pro-choice” while running for the state Senate. As governor, Pataki supported government funding for abortions, yet said he would sign a ban on partial-birth abortions.
SENATOR RAND PAUL
U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was a cosponsor of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act in the U.S. Senate in the 113th Congress. He has maintained a 100% pro-life voting since his term began in 2011.
Senator Paul, in his own words:
I support your efforts to raise awareness of this bill and join your call for consideration in the U.S. Senate.
FORMER GOVERNOR RICK PERRY
In July 2013, while serving as governor of Texas (2000-2015), Rick Perry signed into law H.R. 2, an omnibus bill which included a ban on abortions after 20 weeks, when the unborn child can experience pain.
Perry, in his own words:
This is an important day for those who support life and for those who support the health of Texas women. In signing House Bill 2, we celebrate and further cement the foundation on which the culture of life in Texas is built.
SENATOR MARCO RUBIO
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) was an original cosponsor of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act in the 113th Congress. He has maintained a 100% pro-life voting record since his term began in 2011. Prior to his election to the U.S. Senate, Rubio served in the Florida House from 2000 until 2008, where he rose to the office of Speaker.
On May 13, 2014, he said:
One year ago today Kermit Gosnell was found guilty of murder for killing three babies born alive during illegal late-term abortions. His shameful indifference to the lives of both these victims and the desperate women he claimed to treat shocked the nation. On this first anniversary of Gosnell’s conviction, we are reminded of the work that remains to protect the most innocent and vulnerable among us.
… The dignity of each and every human life is fundamental. And deep disagreements exist among our people about abortion, surely we should aspire to be a nation where we protect unborn babies who can feel pain, respond to touch, and recognize their mothers’ voices.
This legislation [the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act] is sound policy and widely supported by the public. Yet sadly, this is a policy on which the United States lags far behind the rest of the world.
FORMER SENATOR RICK SANTORUM
Rick Santorum represented Pennsylvania in the U.S. Senate from 1995 until 2007. Prior to that, Santorum served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1991 until 1995.
In 1997, Santorum led the fight for passage of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban, which was finally signed into law in 2003 by President George W. Bush. Santorum maintained a 99% pro-life voting record throughout his legislative career.
Regarding H.R.36, he wrote:
As a committed pro-life American, I believe this legislation is an important step towards protecting our nation’s unborn children.
I have long led the fight to stop abortions including the partial-birth abortion ban bill that President George W. Bush signed into law in 2003, and the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act that was signed into law in 2002.
Donald Trump is a businessman, investor, author, and television personality.
Donald Trump’s record on life has evolved over the years. He originally identified himself as pro-choice, then after learning more about the issue, identified himself as pro-life. In an interview with Tim Russert (July 2000), after consulting two doctors about the partial-birth abortion procedure, he concluded that he would support a ban on that method. In recent years, he has reiterated his pro-life position on numerous occasions.
Trump, in his own words:
One thing about me, I’m a very honorable guy. I’m pro-life, but I changed my view a number of years ago.
It [abortion] really, really troubles me, and it really, really bothers me, the whole concept of abortion.
Ronald Reagan had the same basic stances I had…
GOVERNOR SCOTT WALKER
Scott Walker became governor of Wisconsin in 2011. Previously, as a state assemblyman, Scott Walker voted to ban partial-birth abortions and to recognize the unborn child as a separate victim of crime.
As governor, Walker said:
As the Wisconsin Legislature moves forward in the coming session, further protections for mother and child are likely to come to my desk in the form of a bill to prohibit abortions after 20 weeks. I will sign the bill when it gets to my desk and support similar legislation on the federal level.
I was raised to believe in the sanctity of human life and I will always fight to protect it.
Where do announced and potential 2016 presidential candidates for the Democratic nomination stand on late abortions?
FORMER GOVERNOR LINCOLN CHAFEE
Lincoln Chafee served as governor of Rhode Island from 2010 until January, 2015, as an independent. Previously, he represented the state in the U.S. Senate from 1999 until 2007, as a Republican. While in the U.S. Senate, Chafee voted against the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.
Hillary Clinton, first lady to President Bill Clinton, later served as a U.S. senator from New York from 2001 until 2009, when she was named secretary of state by President Obama. As a U.S. senator, Hillary Clinton maintained a 0% pro-life record, voting against the pro-life position on every vote.
When the U.S. House passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act on May 13, 2015, Clinton issued a statement opposing the bill, referring to it as part of a dangerous trend
we are witnessing across the country. In just the first three months of 2015, more than 300 bills have been introduced in state legislatures – on top of the nearly 30 measures introduced in Congress – that restrict access to abortion.
In 2003, Senator Clinton voted against the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. The bill banned a gruesome abortion procedure, used in the fifth month and later, in which an abortionist delivers a living baby, except for her head, then punctures the base of the skull and suctions out her brain, after which the now-dead baby is removed from her mother. The law was ultimately upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Senator Clinton also voted against the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which passed in 2004. The UVVA allows federal and military prosecutors to bring charges on behalf of an unborn child when he or she is the victim of a violent federal or military crime.
In March 2003, Clinton voted for the Harkin Amendment to endorse Roe v. Wade, which allows abortion on demand for any reason.
FORMER GOVERNOR MARTIN O’MALLEY
Martin O’Malley served as governor of Maryland from 2007 until January, 2015. He calls himself “pro-choice.” In April 2014, O’Malley received Planned Parenthood of Maryland’s award “for advancing reproductive rights in Maryland.” Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in the nation.
NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland, in its support of O’Malley in 2010, said, “Having a governor that supports reproductive choice is critical to maintaining the right to choose in Maryland.” Both Planned Parenthood and NARAL oppose and actively worked against the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.
SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has maintained a solid pro-abortion voting record, voting against the pro-life position more than 100 times in his federal legislative career (U.S. House of Representatives 1991-2007, U.S. Senate 2007 to date).
Sanders voted against the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act and against the Unborn Victims of Violence Act every opportunity he had.
SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN
U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has a 100% pro-abortion voting record, voting five out of five times against the pro-life position during the 113th Congress.
Warren is a cosponsor of S.217, the “Women’s Health Protection Act,” often referred to as the “Abortion Without Limits Until Birth Act.” S.217 would invalidate virtually all federal and state limitations on abortion, and force taxpayers to pay for abortion.
FORMER SENATOR JIM WEBB
Jim Webb served as a U.S. senator from Virginia from 2007 to 2013. During that six-year term, he had a 0% record, voting 19 of 19 times against the pro-life position.
Senator Webb supports the current policy of abortion on demand, which allows abortion for any reason.
Look for updates in future National Right to Life News and National Right to Life News Today.