Editor’s note. Since this editorial appeared in the May digital edition of NRL News, which went online Monday, South Carolina’s Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H3114) cleared the final two hurdles in the House and has moved on to Governor Nikki Haley for her expected signature. It would make South Carolina the 14th state to protect babies capable of experiencing excruciating pain when aborted.
This story, and all the others in the latest edition of the “pro-life newspaper of record,” can be accessed at nrlc.org/uploads/NRLNews/NRLNewsMay2016.pdf.
Please share with all your pro-life friends, family, and contacts.
Let me begin with three quotes.
“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.” So said Winston Churchill.
“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them”–the words of Galileo Galilei.
And my favorite (from George Orwell), “To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.”
The pro-abortion mind is not big on incontrovertible truths. There is only one: nothing matters but choice, exercised by the woman. Whether to snuff out that child’s life is fair, ethical, just, or its very opposite, doesn’t matter. It is literally a decision beyond right and wrong: it is hers to make, so get over it, pro-lifers, and move on.
To pro-lifers, there are many incontrovertible truths–human equality, mutual interdependence, the responsibilities that attend absolute power over a powerless unborn child, to name just three. But here I’d like to talk about a “truth” that pro-abortionists will defend with the unborn child’s dying breath: these children cannot experience pain until at least the 27th week or even (some would argue) until after birth.
Put another way fetal pain cannot be true. Were pro-abortionists to concede the self-evident–the capacity of the unborn child to experience unfathomable agony as she is ripped apart– suddenly that “tissue” or that “pregnancy” or that “uterine content” takes on human qualities that gives pause to all but the hardest heart.
This denial of reams of scientific evidence constitute such a key component of the pro-abortion narrative that no amount of evidence could ever cast even the slightest doubt.
But, of course it is true; it is just an inconvenient truth for the Abortion Industry. National Right to Life has produced model legislation that is on the books in thirteen states—The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. (The bill has been introduced in other states as well.) It has also passed the U.S. House of Representatives before being waylaid by pro-abortion Democrats in the Senate.
Summarized, the law forbids such brutal inhumanity by extending general protection to unborn children who are at least 20 weeks beyond fertilization (which is equivalent to 22 weeks of pregnancy — about the start of the sixth month).
It is ethically and strategically an approach that public opinion polls show a sturdy majority of the public agrees with.
This issue is surfacing again with a new law in Utah which does not protect the unborn child but will require that a woman about to abort a child 20 weeks or older be given anesthesia or painkillers for the baby. The question once again arose when is the unborn child capable of experiencing excruciating pain as she is aborted?
The New York Times recently addressed the new Utah law in a story written by Jack Healy. Here are just two points of many that could be made.
Opponents disagree with the 20-week standard, Healy writes.
They cite a wide-ranging 2005 [Journal of the American Medical Association] study that found a fetus was unlikely to feel pain until the third trimester of a pregnancy, or about 27 weeks.
We’ve discussed this JAMA study on many occasions. NRLC President Carol Tobias, in a must-read statement made when the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act was introduced last year in the Senate, cautioned reporters not to be misled by “media-propagated myths about abortion.”
Referring to the study, she said
Almost invariably, journalists who cite it fail to note (as JAMA also failed to disclose) that the lead author was a medical student previously employed as an attorney at NARAL, and a co-author was a self-proclaimed activist, the director of the largest abortion clinic in San Francisco and a leading practitioner of late dismemberment abortions. Predictably, the review was relentlessly tendentious, arguing for the truly remarkable position that there is no good evidence for fetal pain capacity before 29 weeks LMP, which is about seven weeks later than one-fourth of preemies survive with active assistance.
Second (speaking of recycled media-propagated myths), we’re told that abortions at 20 weeks are “a rarity.” This is simply not so. Mrs. Tobias noted
Abortions past 20 weeks fetal age are not “rare.” We’ve estimated that at least 275 facilities in the U.S. offer them. While statistically reporting on late abortions is notoriously spotty, by very conservative estimates there are at least 11,000-13,000 abortions performed annually after this point, probably many more. If an epidemic swept neonatal intensive care units and killed 11,000 very premature infants, it would not be dismissed as a “rare” event – it would be headline news on every channel, a first-order public health crisis.
If time permitted, we could talk about another hoary pro-abortion talking point: that virtually all the babies aborted at 20 weeks are because the baby or the mother faces an acute medical crisis. The best available evidence suggests that the great majority of abortions performed in the late second trimester are not performed because of either of these reasons.
Let me put this all in perspective with a final quote from NRLC President Carol Tobias:
Consider that it is now commonplace to see features on TV or read stories about how unborn children, by 20 weeks fetal age, respond to many forms of stimuli, including music, and the mother’s voice. (Stories of this type generally refer to the “unborn child,” a usage apparently not permitted in stories that concern abortion, even when the stories are about the same human entities, at the same stage of development.) We read stories of surgeries performed on unborn babies in the womb during the second trimester – who are first, of course, thoroughly anesthetized. Yet, ACOG and PPFA ask you to take their word that these babies, and even babies many weeks older, remain blissfully insensible as powerful grasping tools are introduced into the uterus, and their little arms and legs are twisted off by brute force.
I would argue it is not the unborn child that is “blissfully insensitive,” but the likes of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and Planned Parenthood of America.