WASHINGTON — South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham has introduced a federal bill that would nationally ban abortions past 20 weeks.
The measure, called the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, includes exceptions in instances of rape, incest and the life of the mother.
Graham held a press conference on Thursday to formally announce the effort and call upon the Senate to allow the bill to come up for a vote in 2014. The House passed a similar measure in June 228 to 196.
“We are choosing today to speak up for all babies at 20 weeks, and trying to create legal protections under the theory that if you can feel pain, the government should protect you from being destroyed by an abortion, which I imagine would be a very painful way to die,” he stated.
Graham also issued a news release outlining his motivation behind the proposed bill.
“At twenty weeks, mothers are encouraged to speak and sing as the baby can recognize the voice of the mother,” Graham explained. “The question for the American people is, ‘Should we be silent when it comes to protecting these unborn children entering the sixth month of pregnancy? Or is it incumbent on us to speak up and act on their behalf? I say we must speak up and act.”
He said that since the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, much has been learned about the development of children in the womb.
“Science and technology have advanced tremendously since 1973,” he stated. “We now know that an unborn child at the twentieth week of pregnancy can feel pain. In fact, anesthesia is administered directly to unborn children in second trimester fetal surgery. Given these facts and my continued strong support for life, I believe there is a compelling interest in protecting these unborn children who are among the most vulnerable in our society.”
Over 30 senators have co-sponsored the measure, including Ted Cruz of Texas, Charles Grassley of Iowa, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and John Thune of South Dakota.
Pro-abortion groups denounced the bill as being a progression of the “war on women.”
“Make no mistake, this legislation is being proposed as a next step by those who aim to overturn Roe v. Wade,” Andrea Friedman of the National Partnership for Women and Families told reporters. “It is blatantly unconstitutional, banning abortion before viability and violating women’s fundamental right to make the very personal decision whether or not to continue a pregnancy.”
But the National Right to Life Committee praised Graham for his efforts and stated that public opinion would support the move.
“Lives hang in the balance. Congress cannot sit idly by to condone these violent acts; it’s time to take a stand for the protection of these pain-capable unborn children,” said Senior Legislative Counsel Susan T. Muskett, J.D.. “Not since Congress voted to ban the brutal partial-birth abortion method has a more important piece of pro-life legislation come before Congress.”
However, some pro-life organizations disagree with the measure due to the exceptions that are in place, as well as the allowance of abortion prior to 20 weeks.
“What about all the children before six months of pregnancy, Mr. Graham?” asked the South Carolina-based organization Columbia Christians for Life. “‘The Silent Scream’ [documentary’s] ultrasound video of the suction abortion of an 11-week child has already shown us unborn children feel pain much earlier than your bogus 20-week pain capable bill—and this video was produced in 1984—almost 30 years ago!”