By Dave Andrusko
It’s easy to forget that when pro-life legislation passes, it does not take effect until a date sometime in the future (barring successful pro-abortion legal shenanigans). But as Congress comes back into session today and state legislatures approach the opening of their sessions, we’re reminded of the good news that Ohio’s Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act will take effect March 6, ninety days after Gov. John Kasich signed SB 127 into law.
There will then officially be 15 states which have passed laws to protect unborn babies capable of experiencing pain from the excruciating agony of abortion– Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
At the federal level, the measure has passed in the House of Representatives but was waylaid in the Senate by pro-abortion Democrats. While 54 senators (51 Republicans and three Democrats) voted to take the bill up for debate, 60 votes were required. That’s the way the Senate now works on “controversial” legislation.
The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is based on model legislation provided by National Right to Life. First enacted by Nebraska in 2010, a number of polls have shown nation-wide support for the measure which bans abortions of unborn children capable of experiencing pain.
And because that first law was enacted nearly six years ago, we might forget some basics about process and science which are crucial for an eventual Supreme Court test and, in the meanwhile, passage in additional states.
For starters there is the lesson of the importance of establishing an unimpeachable legislative history. In the face of withering ad hominem pro-abortion attacks, pro-lifers did just that over and over again.
In banning abortions after the point at which medical science demonstrates the unborn can feel pain, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act was portrayed as a fundamental break from previous Supreme Court abortion jurisprudence.
But if you held the law up to the light of the last two abortion cases (Stenberg v. Carhart and Gonzales v. Carhart), there were shafts of light suggesting that a majority of the Court is open to a new knowledge and technology not available in 1973. And, of course, pro-life President-elect Donald Trump will be filling the vacancy left by the untimely passing of Justice Antonin Scalia and likely an additional one (or more) vacancies in the next four years.
Put another way, in an era of prenatal surgery (accompanied by the use of anesthesia to manage pain), four-dimensional, full-color ultrasounds, and a bevy of scientific studies, clearly there is much scientific evidence that the hardware is in place by 20 weeks for the unborn to experience pain.
What else? In a June 2015 press conference NRLC President Carol Tobias addressed the myth that abortions are “rare” after 20 weeks.
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.
A lot of pain-capable unborn babies are dying a horrific death and a law to stop that has strong public support. As we reported elsewhere today, a national poll taken election day found widespread support that extended across all demographic and geographic boundaries. For example
· Millennial voters — 78% support
· Women voters — 67% support
· African Americans 70% support
· Hispanics — 57% support
Congratulations to Ohio Right to Life and the other 14 states which have passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. We are looking forward to other states passing this important law this legislative session.
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