WASHINGTON—A U.S. House subcommittee on Tuesday approved a bill that would ban all abortions in the U.S. after 20 weeks gestation.
The House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice voted 6-4 along party lines to send the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to the full Judiciary Committee. No timetable has been set for the committee to take up the legislation, but Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., is pro-life, and the bill now has 137 cosponsors.
Trent Franks, R-Ariz., who chairs the subcommittee and authored the legislation, said he knows the bill is controversial, but “The trial of Kermit Gosnell exposed late abortions for what they really are: relocated infanticide.”
Last month, a Philadelphia jury found abortionist Kermit Gosnell guilty of murdering three babies and sentenced him to three life terms in prison.
Franks’ original version of H.B. 1797 would have only applied to the District of Columbia, but he amended it last month to include the rest of the country.
“[We] find ourselves at a point at which we don’t offer unborn children even the most basic protections—even protections we extend to animals and property,” Franks said. “I pray we use this as a ‘teachable moment,’ in the words of President Obama, and can agree that, at the very least, we are better than dismembering babies who can feel every excruciating moment.”
Research has shown unborn babies can feel pain at 20 weeks—and possibly earlier.
Allowing those babies to continue to be aborted is wrong, said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council: “While Americans are divided on abortion, we are united on the rights of the pain-capable unborn. Gallup has found that 64 percent of Americans support protecting babies in the second trimester. We call on Congress to respect the views of their constituents and pass the national Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.”
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., has set up a “citizen cosponsor” page for members of the public to show their support for the bill.
Franks’ legislation comes on the heels of a series of charges against abortionists who conduct procedures after 20 weeks, including Timothy Liveright, Leroy Carhart, Cesare Santangelo, and Douglas Karpen.