Politics & Policy

An Advance on Abortion

(Photo: Winnietam/Dreamstime)

The House of Representatives has to its credit passed a bill that would limit abortions performed after the 20th week of pregnancy. We urge Mitch McConnell to undertake every exertion to get it through the Senate and put it on President Donald Trump’s desk for signing as quickly as possible. 

The bill, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, is offered on the theory that at 20 weeks, unborn children have developed the sensory apparatus necessary to experience the pain associated with the gruesome process of aborting them. Indeed, ultrasound imagery shows children in the womb flinching from pain during fetal medical procedures. The more obvious the facts about abortion are, the less tolerable our current anything-goes abortion regime appears.

It may indeed be that unborn children at even earlier stages of development experience excruciating pain as their young lives are snuffed out, which is one reason that even in such socially liberal countries as France, abortion often is heavily regulated (nearly prohibited) after the twelfth week, not the twentieth. The bill would not bring the United States into line with Sweden (18 weeks) or Germany (12 weeks and mandatory Schwangerschaftskonfliktberatung, or abortion counseling) but it would represent a welcome step in the right direction. 

The bill would make the usual exceptions for cases of rape and incest, and cases in which the life of the mother would be put into danger by the continuation of the pregnancy. 

Abortion is an ugly business, and it gets uglier the later in the pregnancy it occurs. We will not rehearse the horrors of late-term abortion here beyond noting that there was a compelling reason the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act was signed into law. A 20-week limit would represent the most meaningful federal restriction on abortion since Roe v. Wade — indeed, the inevitable legal challenge to the law might very well provide the Supreme Court with the opportunity to revisit that grievously ill-considered and constitutionally groundless decision.

Every advance against this barbaric and needless practice is to be welcomed. We urge Republicans not to let up until this bill is law. 


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