Pain is part of the human experience, and so is compassion for those who suffer pain. For too long, our nation’s laws have excluded unborn children from this compassion even when growing evidence shows they can feel pain at least by 15 weeks in their development.
That’s why we support and strongly encourage others in the pro-life community to rally behind the “Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children from Late-Term Abortions Act.” This legislation sets a minimum national standard limiting abortion past 15 weeks. It would also allow states, which choose to do so, to take additional steps to protect unborn children.
The U.S. is one of a handful of nations, including China and North Korea, which allow abortion on demand right up to the moment of birth. It’s time we get America out of this heinous club and in-line with modern science and the rest of the civilized world.
Most of our European allies already limit abortion by at least 15 weeks. Developed nations like Switzerland, Denmark, and Norway allow abortion up to 12 weeks while France, Germany, Belgium, and Spain allow abortion up to 14 weeks. In total, 47 out of 50 European nations prohibit abortion by at the latest the 15th week — the same standard we are encouraging the United States to adopt.
For almost 50 years, the American people were denied a voice on abortion. Since the Dobbs victory in the U.S. Supreme Court, more than a dozen states have already taken action to protect the unborn. This represents historic progress, but more work remains to be done.
Today, in some states, there are currently no protections for the unborn. These states not only allow abortion on demand — up to the moment of birth — but are actively encouraging women to travel to their state to receive taxpayer-funded abortions.
In Maryland, a new “all-trimester” abortion facility is set to open that will perform abortions as late as 34 weeks. While shocking to the conscience, Maryland is not alone. Other states, including California, New York, Illinois, and Oregon are following similar paths. Unborn children will be dismembered. They will be tragically subjected to a cruel and inhumane death as these states allow abortion until the moment of birth. We as a nation are better than that.
There is never a bad time to stand up for the unborn. The pro-life community should not stand by or stand down. We must speak up and speak out when states adopt inhumane standards on protecting life. We firmly reject the idea of legitimizing the cruelty of the North Korean and Chinese standard of abortion in America.
Unfortunately, some of our friends are hesitant, if not resistant, to supporting federal action. They believe this issue should be solely left to the states with no federal oversight. We disagree.
As conservatives, we believe and respect the 10th Amendment. We also strongly believe many wrongs have been justified under the guise of states’ rights. However, there are certain issues that define a nation and have real-world practical consequences regardless of state boundaries.
There is a point when states’ rights must give way to human rights. Life is one of those issues.
One of our greatest conservative judicial minds, Justice Samuel Alito, authored the Dobbs decision which said the people and their elected representatives will decide how abortion should be regulated. The people’s elected representatives serve in state legislatures and in Congress. And Justice Brett Kavanaugh concurred, writing that the Constitution “leaves the issue for the people and their elected representatives to resolve through the democratic process in the States or Congress.”
At the center of that case, which has been a major discussion for over a year, was a state law limiting late-term abortions at 15 weeks. Even before that, the Republican conference has sought to rein in late-term abortions for over a decade.
Our understanding of an unborn child and his or her development before birth has drastically changed since Roe v Wade in 1973. At 15 weeks, unborn babies make fists and facial expressions.
According to WebMD, “Eyebrows and hair on the top of the head are beginning to grow, bones are getting harder, and the baby may even be sucking their thumb. Their organs are fully formed now and will continue to grow. You may be able to tell the baby’s sex this week with high-resolution ultrasound!”
Fifty years ago, this was unthinkable. Today doctors perform surgery right in the womb. The baby is treated as an individual patient and receives pain medication as standard care.
Pain is certainly not the end of the discussion about what makes each of us human, valuable, and deserving of protection. There’s a lot more work to be done to ensure that one day every child is protected under the law, and we believe, over time, life will win. But this is a reasonable starting place for a debate worthy of the United States Senate and our nation. Ending brutal abortions after 15 weeks is achievable if enough Democrats come alongside enough Republicans.
We know that voters in key battleground states prefer a candidate who supports protections at 15 weeks to a candidate who believes in abortion on demand at any stage of pregnancy.
If Democrats want to argue that painful, late-term abortions up until birth — like those taking place in Maryland, California, New York, Illinois and Oregon — make America a better place, they are free to do so. The vast majority of Americans reject that position.
The pro-life community should do the same.
Marjorie Dannenfelser is president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America.