An intellectually dishonest critique of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

By Dave Andrusko

Frankly, I don’t know how I missed it; I must have been so overjoyed at the House of Representatives passing the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act that I “forgot” to read what I knew would be hysterical response from the editorial page of the Washington Post. Alas, as fate would have it I ran across a reprint of the editorial today in, of all places, an obscure Canadian newspaper!

The headline was a typical sober, laid-back, calm recitation of the facts: “House Republicans unforgiving assault on the freedom to choose.”

Okay, maybe not so calm.

HR 36 would extend federal protections to unborn children who have reached 20 weeks fetal age–the point at which medical science has shown the unborn child will experience pain while she is torn to shreds–and those who are born alive during late abortions. The Post conspicuously does not address the plight of babies born alive. I understand why they would avoid that discussion at all costs.

Anything new in the Post’s response? Let’s see.

#1. The House sent “to the Senate a Bill purportedly about protecting fetuses capable of feeling pain.” The Post’s institutional conscience is soothed by the assurance that “the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that fetuses cannot feel pain at 20 weeks.”

Never mind that ACOG is joined at the hip to the Abortion Lobby. Or that in the months leading up to a 2015 House vote, ACOG’s chief executive officer “educated” journalists with misinformation about the “rarity” of abortions at 20 weeks and beyond and the scope of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. Not exactly an unbiased source of expertise.

#2. The bulk of the editorial was a non sequitur in which the Post goes after a “pro-life” congressman who has since resigned for dreadful behavior, including asking a mistress to obtain an abortion. What does that possibly have to do with banning a “procedure” that even many pro-abortionists have qualms about? Or a law that has strong support among the public? Or confronting whether there are any limits to the “right” to abortion?

Nothing. It’s a sophomoric debating tactic intended to divert attention from the atrocities. Two more

#3. The Post editorial continues, “People of goodwill disagree about when life begins and mourn what they see as the morally disturbing decisions others make. But in a free society, and in the absence of a clear scientific standard, such decisions should remain with the consciences of individuals, not a matter of federal fiat. The Constitution demands as much.”

Let’s be clear. If there comes a time when it is impossible even for ACOG to pretend babies at 20 weeks fetal age do not experience pain, does anyone think the Post would suddenly embrace this “clear scientific standard”? Of course not. If in the meanwhile the “consensus” became 24 weeks fetal age, would the Post change its tune? That “clear scientific standard” would be just as unacceptable. Finally

#4. According to the Post, “Mid- and late-term abortions are already extremely rare, and a common motivation is concern that fetuses are developing with severe abnormalities.” This is a talking point straight out of the pro-abortion handbook, a bogus assertion that NRLC has debunked on numerous occasions.

For example, as NRLC President Carol Tobias said in 2015

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.

Moreover, she added, “the best available evidence suggests that the great majority of abortions performed in the late second trimester are not performed because either mother or baby faces an acute medical crisis.”

Opposing the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and being intellectually honest at the same time is an impossibility, as the Post (and the New York Times and the rest of the Establishment Media) shows us every time the issue comes up.