“YES” on 5-month Abortion Ban (H.R. 36)

This week, the House will vote on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 36), introduced by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) 90%. This legislation will protect unborn children by preventing abortions five months after fertilization, at which time scientific evidence suggests the child can feel pain. In 2013, a similar bill passed the House by a 228-196 vote, but did not receive consideration in the Senate, which was controlled by Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) 13%.

The United States is one of only seven countries in which elective, late-term abortions are legal, putting us in the same company as North Korea, China and Vietnam. Last year Quinnipiac  found that 60 percent of Americans support a five-month ban, including 56 percent of Independents and nearly half of Democrats. Moreover, a 2013 survey conducted by the Washington Post revealed that 60 percent of women support this limitation as well.

In promising a vote on the bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) 40% noted “a clear majority of women nationwide [who are] in support of this common-sense legislation.”

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that passing this bill would save roughly 11,000 lives each year—a number widely considered to be on the conservative side. As Rep. Franks has explained in sponsoring the bill, “More than 18,000 ‘very late term’ abortions are performed every year on perfectly healthy unborn babies in America,” explaining these lives are often taken “torturously.”

The five-month ban has successfully become law in 13 states so far, and the time has come to protect the sanctity of life at the national level. Earlier this year Politico reported that all major 2016 Republican presidential candidates support this legislation as well, setting the stage for a critical moral debate about treatment of the unborn in the next election. Our representatives have a responsibility to push this debate into the political forefront. By refusing to shy away from tough votes and embracing the pro-life principles on which many were elected, members can save innocent lives. This legislation should not represent an aberration on the congressional voting record, but rather should mark the beginning of a true fight on behalf of the unborn.

As Justice Anthony M. Kennedy explained in the case of Stenberg v. Carhart, “The fetus, in many cases, dies just as a human adult or child would: It bleeds to death as it is torn limb from limb.”

Heritage Action supports H.R. 36 and will include it as a key vote on our legislative scorecard.

(This key vote was originally posted on January 20, 2015.)

Heritage Action’s Legislative Scorecard