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Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mrs. HARTZLER. We do a lot of things here in Washington and discuss many types of legislation, and sometimes the impact of what we do gets lost in the debate. Today, I want to remind my colleagues that this bill impacts people and why it's important.

There is an injustice occurring in our society.

One unborn baby who is 6 months along develops a medical condition. The doctor gives anesthesia in the womb to that baby because it can feel pain, and an operation is conducted to correct the problem so the baby can be brought to full term. Another unborn baby who is 6 months along, down the street at a clinic, does not receive anesthesia, and is ripped apart limb by limb by an abortionist, who crushes the skull to complete the abortion.

This is wrong.

I rise today in support of H.R. 1797, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would prohibit an abortion of an unborn child who has surpassed 20 weeks on the basis that children at this stage of development can feel pain. In light of the recent trial of Kermit Gosnell, we have seen firsthand the very gruesome nature of what is currently taking place in America's abortion industry--the reality that abortion involves not a choice but the taking of a human life. Late-term abortions are agonizingly painful, and they are happening all around the Nation.

A leading expert in fetal pain has said ``the human fetus possesses the ability to experience pain from 20 weeks of gestation .....'' and that the pain felt by a fetus may be more intense than that perceived by full-term or older children. This pain is inflicted through a procedure known as D&E, in which the doctor literally tears apart the little body of the child after removing him from the womb and finally crushes the child's skull.

Science and the American public are united on this issue. This gruesome practice has no place in our society. In fact, a recent poll found 63 percent of women believe abortion should not be permitted where substantial medical evidence says that the unborn child can feel pain. There is also a risk to the mother.

Drawing a line at 20 weeks is not arbitrary. The child suffers great pain, and the mother is placed drastically in danger. A woman seeking an abortion at 20 weeks is 35 times more likely to die from abortion than she was in the first trimester. At 21 weeks or more, the chance of death is 91 times higher. Jennifer Morbelli was the recent victim of such a dangerous abortion procedure, at 33 weeks, in Maryland. This abortion was done in a residential condominium complex in Baltimore last February--a tragic end to a young mother and an agonizing death for her child.

As a society, it is time to speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves and to stop this heinous practice.


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