At twenty weeks past conception a baby can sleep and wake in the womb. She can suck her thumb, make faces, and see light filtering in through the womb.

And by 20 weeks, if not before, science suggests that baby can also feel pain.

Only seven countries in the entire world allow elective abortions at this late stage. And the United States is one of them.

Each year in this country, more than ten thousand abortions occur after the twenty-week mark.

We can stop this and we must.

That is why this coming Monday’s vote on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is so important.

The abortion lobby is attacking this bill by denying there is any evidence that unborn babies can feel pain at twenty weeks.

That’s what the abortion lobby says. But what does the science say?

According to a 2006 study from the International Association for the Study of Pain, “The available scientific evidence makes it possible, even probable, that fetal pain perception occurs well before late gestation.”

The study goes on to say that pain perception develops in the “second trimester,” “well before the third trimester.”

A 2012 study by the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists concludes, “the basis for pain perception appear[s] at about 20 to 22 weeks from conception.”

And another 2012 study that was published in the journal Fetal Diagnosis and Therapy found that “. . . from the second trimester onwards, the fetus reacts to painful stimuli . . . [T]hese painful interventions may cause long-term effects.”

The authors of this study recommend that unborn children be given painkillers during “potentially painful procedures” such as surgeries—or, I would add, such as abortions.

There are many more studies like these but the consensus is clear: The science at a minimum suggests that unborn children can feel pain at 20 weeks . . . Can feel the abortionists’ knife and suction tube as it rips them apart in the womb.

That possibility alone should have us rushing to ban abortion at 20 weeks.

A vote for that 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.