Legislation Protecting Unborn Children is Justified
Last week, the Senate rejected the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act after having passed the House. The bill would make it illegal for someone to perform an abortion on a fetus that is 20 weeks old or older. It would effectively outlaw abortion past 20 weeks as a form of birth control- aka: ending the child’s life because it is convenient for the parent or unwanted. What the bill doesn’t do is restrict abortion under dire circumstances. A summary of the bill reads:
“The bill provides exceptions for an abortion: (1) that is necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman, or (2) when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. A physician who performs or attempts to perform an abortion under an exception must comply with specified requirements.”
Women would be allowed to terminate the life of the child if their health is on the line and if the child was conceived by a crime being committed against them. The individual that performs the abortion on a 20-week-old fetus outside these circumstances would be held to criminal charges. This bill comes across as common sense to some, while others consider it as an assault on their freedom to end the life of their children at will.
According to a Marist poll, 63 percent of Americans agree with restricting abortion past 20 weeks of pregnancy. The 20-week-old mark was chosen because of the extent to which fetuses tend to develop by that time. Around 20 weeks the fetus can feel pain, hence the name of the bill. They can also sometimes survive outside the womb by 20 weeks.
Restricting abortion past a certain point is not uncommon. According to the BBC, there are time limits on the gestation of the fetus in most European countries. For example, France, Germany, and Greece don’t allow abortions past 12 weeks unless there are extreme risks to the woman’s health. Most European Union countries have a cutoff period for abortions past a certain week of pregnancy.
This specific issue shouldn’t be taken as a battle between those who are pro-life and pro-choice. Many pro-choice individuals choose the 20-week period as the cutoff point. Despite that and a majority of public support, two Senate Republicans opposed the bill as well as all but three Senate Democrats. The bill allows a fetus to be put to death despite its development and ability to feel pain and suffer. It’s even possible for babies to survive being born premature as early as 21 weeks into gestation.
Should you be able to painfully end another person’s life for the sake of personal convenience? Of course not, but fetuses who develop the ability to feel pain can be aborted under current law. The bill the Senate rejected is not so black and white as to limit abortion earlier than 20 weeks or late term abortion under dire circumstances. It would allow late term abortion if the pregnancy poses a serious health risk to the mother and if they were the victim of rape. This bill is not extreme: it’s common sense. Regardless of your position on the legality and morality of abortion in general, you should concede that there must be a cutoff period. If the child can feel the pain of its body being ripped apart by 20 weeks old, how can a cutoff past then be justified?