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District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. HARRIS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding the time to me.

I will tell you the argument that this is unconstitutional just isn't true. I urge the Members on the other side of the aisle who oppose the measure to read Judge Teilborg's opinion, just having been released, where he goes very carefully and says this doesn't prohibit abortions after 20 weeks, it limits them, clearly within the purview of Roe v. Wade and the subsequent case law, where the Gonzalez case says, for instance:

Government uses its voice and regulatory authority to show its profound respect for the life within the woman.

Now, the Flat Earth Society on the other side would have you believe that no medical advances have been made in pain and the perception of pain since Roe v. Wade has been issued. But, in fact, they have. About 15 years ago, a huge discussion about whether preterm infants at 23 to 25, 26 weeks, being cared for by the thousands in our neonatal intensive care units, perceive pain to the point where pain medicine would be required to be administered to those patients. Pain medicine, that if it weren't required would be dangerous, but the decision--this has been decided. These infants are being treated for pain.

The opposition would hold up a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association from 2005, written by pro-abortion proponents, which suggested that until 30 weeks, there was no perception of pain. Mr. Speaker, that's been settled in hospitals around the country where 23- to 25-week fetuses are being treated. This bill sets that 20-week limit for two reasons. One is, as the judge says in his findings, everyone concedes that pain receptors are present at 20 weeks throughout the fetus. Mr. Speaker, God didn't put those there if they weren't there for a reason, and it is to perceive pain. Secondly, the risk to the mother increases exponentially as you get out of the first week of gestation, the risk of abortion to the mother. That's clear. That's demonstrated. That's epidemiology. That's not ideology; that's science. That's science clearly understood.

Mr. Speaker, this bill is founded on very basic scientific principles that the fetus has pain receptors throughout their body at 20 weeks and that the risk to the mother increases after 20 weeks.


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