Right now, the United States is one of just seven countries in the whole world that allow elective abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
And we are not in good company.
Of the other six countries that allow elective abortions at that late stage, half are authoritarian communist countries with horrible records on human rights.
Yes, our abortion laws are as extreme as the abortion laws in Vietnam, China, and North Korea.
It pains me—and it should pain all Americans—that the United States lags so far behind the rest of the world in protecting the unborn.
Twenty weeks is the fifth month of pregnancy. Just think what that means.
At that stage, the unborn child is about 10 inches long from head-to-toe. He or she is roughly the size of a banana.
A baby at this age sleeps and wakes in the womb. She sucks her thumb, makes faces, and in some cases sees light filtering in through the womb.
And by 20 weeks, if not before, science suggests that baby could also feel pain.
Each year in this country, more than ten thousand abortions occur after this point in the baby’s development.
Today we have a chance to stop this grave injustice.
Moments from now this body will vote on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a bill that would prohibit abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy.
This is a common-sense restriction that is supported by a strong majority of Americans.
More than six in 10 Americans support a ban on abortion after 20 weeks, according to a Marist poll conducted earlier this month.
Not only that, a majority of Democrats—56 percent— said they would support a 20-week ban on abortion.
So yes, this bill has widespread support. And it would bring America back into the mainstream of nations.
But more importantly, this bill is just. It is the right thing to do.
The reason we signed up for this job is to fight for what is right. And it is wrong—self-evidently wrong—that our country allows five-month-old unborn babies to be killed.
We in this body have a moral duty to protect those vulnerable human beings.
But I have no illusions that this will be easy.
We have to overcome the misinformation of the abortion industry, a powerful special interest that wants to keep abortion legal up to birth.
The abortion industry is attacking this bill by denying there is any evidence that unborn babies can feel pain at 20 weeks.
The linchpin of its argument is a 2005 study that claimed unborn babies could not feel pain until the 30th week of pregnancy.
What the abortion industry never mentions is that this study was written by individuals with significant undisclosed ties—to the abortion industry itself!
As reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer, the study’s lead author—who was not a doctor, but a medical student—previously worked for NARAL.
Another of the study’s authors actually performed abortions as the medical director of an abortion clinic.
How convenient, that the abortion industry’s denial of fetal pain rests on a study written by its own employees.
If I recall, the tobacco industry tried something similar when they denied that cigarettes cause cancer.
As always, the antidote to misinformation is more information. And the antidote to bad science is good science.
So I have here three studies that address the topic of fetal pain specifically.
They were all published after the abortion industry’s favorite study. And unlike that study, none of these studies are compromised by conflicts of interest.
This one is by the International Association for the Study of Pain.
It concludes: “The available scientific evidence makes it possible, even probable, that fetal pain perception occurs well before late gestation.”
The study pinpoints fetal pain to the “second trimester” of pregnancy, “well before the third trimester.”
Here’s another study by the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists.
It concludes, “the basis for pain perception appear[s] at about 20 to 22 weeks from conception.”
And finally, here’s a 2012 study published in the Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine.
This paper states that there is evidence that unborn children can feel pain beginning at 20 weeks.
The authors note that at this stage, unborn children have pain receptors in their skin, recoil from sharp objects like needles, and release stress hormones when they are harmed.
They conclude, “We should suppose that the fetus can feel pain. When the development of the fetus is equal to that of a premature baby.”
I could go on, but I think that is enough.
The takeaway is this: The science at a minimum suggests that unborn children can feel pain around 20 weeks. Can feel the abortionists’ instruments as they do their gristly work.
These children feel, Mr. President, until they cannot.
That possibility alone should have us rushing to ban abortion at 20 weeks.
So I implore my colleagues to vote YES on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.
A vote for this bill is a vote to protect some of the most vulnerable members of the human family.
Together, we can move our country’s laws away from North Korea and China, and towards our most fundamental belief: That all human beings are created equal and have an unalienable right to life.