Anna Higgins

Many abortion supporters have been careful to condemn the actions of Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted of murder for killing babies born alive after botched abortions. Yet similar actions are legally committed everyday in our country as long as they are completed inside, rather than outside, the womb. These late-term abortions inflict excruciating pain on the unborn child, and unfortunately are not rare occurrences. U.S. Rep. Trent Franks’s (R-AZ) recently-passed bill, the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 1797), would end this inhumane practice by banning abortion past the point at which the unborn child can feel pain, at 20 weeks. The bill is headed to the Senate.

Science has shown that the unborn child can experience pain by at least 20 weeks gestation. Thus anesthesia is regularly administered to unborn children during prenatal surgery. Leading researcher in the area of fetal pain, Dr. Kanwaljeet Anand, testified in 2004 before the District Court of Nebraska, “It is my opinion that the human fetus possesses the ability to experience pain from 20 weeks gestation, if not earlier and the pain perceived by the fetus is possibly more intense than that perceived by term newborns or older children….”

Testimony on the introduction of Franks’s bill by former late-term abortionist Dr. Anthony Levatino brought home the horrifying realities of abortions performed on unborn babies who we know can feel pain. Levatino described the process of dismembering a live baby inside the womb in graphic detail. That anyone could listen to this testimony and not be moved to end this atrocious practice is beyond comprehension.

The American public overwhelmingly believes that these late abortion procedures should be banned. A recent Gallup poll shows that 64 percent of Americans believe abortion should be illegal during the second trimester and 80 percent of Americans believe abortion should be banned in the third trimester. Routinely allowing pain-capable children to be aborted defies all standards of ethics and common decency.


Anna Higgins

Anna Higgins, J.D., is director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C.