As national media outlets report that the U.S. Senate rejected a 20-week abortion ban, many are overlooking the full reaction from pro-life, conservative leaders.
On Monday, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (S. 2311) failed to advance in the Senate with a 51 to 46 vote. Supported by President Trump and sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the bill banning abortion after five months of pregnancy needed 60 votes to break a Democratic filibuster. Pro-life leaders, from March for Life’s Jeanne Mancini to Students for Life’s Kristan Hawkins expressed disappointment in the vote.
In years past, similar legislation has failed in the Senate. In response to Monday's vote, The New York Times correspondent Sheryl Gay Stolberg called the move a “largely symbolic vote” as the midterm elections approach.
The bill included exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother. But that wasn’t enough for feminist outlets such as Jezebel (via writer Esther Wang), that dismissed the bill’s argument that 20-week-old babies can feel pain, worried about punishment for abortion providers, and bashed politicians for weighing in on abortion.
In contrast, pro-life organization Susan B. Anthony List, and its research arm, the Charlotte Lozier Institute, stressed that science shows babies can feel pain at 20 weeks. The group has urged in the past that the United States is just one of seven countries that allow elective abortions past 20 weeks. Polls also indicate support for the ban in the U.S., including a recent Marist poll that found that a majority of Americans back a 20-week abortion ban.
According to pro-life leaders, those were points that should be paid attention too. They released the following statements [edited for brevity]:
March for Life President Jeanne Mancini:
While we are grateful that this was brought to a vote, it is disappointing that the U.S. Senate could not pass the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act today, a bill that President Donald Trump specifically called upon Congress to bring to his desk at the 45th annual March for Life. This bill would have limited most late term abortions to protect approximately 12,000 unborn children every year. For over a decade, polling has shown that the large majority of Americans – including those who identify as pro-choice – would limit abortion to, at most, the first three months of pregnancy. It is a disgrace that our Senate has once again failed to pass a bill that reflects the hearts and minds of the national pro-life consensus.
Americans United for Life President and CEO Catherine Glenn Foster:
Americans United for Life is disappointed by the Senate’s failure to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act this [Monday] evening. Not only would this legislation have provided protections for unborn children who feel pain, but it would also have protected mothers from the increased risks associated with later term abortions. Research shows that a woman seeking an abortion at 20 weeks (five months) is 35 times more likely to die from an abortion than she was in the first trimester.
Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins:
Pro-life Americans would finally have a groundbreaking victory for life in the U.S. Senate if the vote passed with majority rules as it should. It’s time for a rule change. Instead, extremists in the Senate can block the desires of more than three out of four Americans who support real limits on the deadly abortion procedure. It’s only common sense that abortion be limited at the point at which the preborn infant feels great pain and the procedure is so dangerous for women. For those Senators who voted against the bill, Millennials will be asking how they can embrace such an inhumane procedure for infants who soon can survive outside the womb, and the Pro-life generation will hold them accountable.
The Catholic Association Senior Policy Advisor Malloy Ferguson:
The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection bill would ban abortion past the point at which 20-week babies are sucking their thumbs in ultrasound photos displayed proudly on their parents' refrigerators. They are also routinely given anesthesia during in-utero procedures due to their ability to feel pain.
But because the minority blocked this bill, the brutality of painful late-term abortion – over 12,000 a year – will continue unrestricted. Babies at this stage of development are capable of surviving outside of the womb, and are capable of feeling pain. This is a human tragedy, and a political mistake for the senators who opposed a bill supported by about two-thirds of Americans.
The Catholic Association Legal Advisor Andrea Picciotti-Bayer:
The pain capable bill reflects the general acceptance in America that abortion should have some limits placed on its use. Courts have echoed this consensus in reviewing state laws regulating abortion. Recognizing an unborn baby's ability to feel pain as the point where no abortion in any part of the country should be allowed is a good place to begin again the conversation on the sanctity of life. That this conversation is delayed by the Senate's vote must not stop the need to address how the country can better protect the most vulnerable.
The Catholic Association Senior Fellow Ashley McGuire:
A majority of senators have voted to end the barbaric practice of late-term abortion. This reflects the will of the American people, an overwhelming majority of whom want to ban the gruesome procedure. Regularly referred to as ‘common ground’ for both pro-choices and pro-lifers, this is a common sense and moderate measure that only brings the United States in line with most other developed nations that have long banned it. Sadly, Democrats still in the grip of the powerful abortion lobby refuse to let America take this important step forward.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins:
American[s] should not be forced to remain in the company of nations that engage in the aborting of viable unborn children. Because of Democrat opposition to the Pain-Capable bill America will remain one of seven countries in the world, along with North Korea, China, and Vietnam that have legalized abortion on demand after 5 months of development. The American people will not forget the extreme position taken by Senate Democrats to block this commonsense legislation to stop barbaric late abortions, which is supported by nearly 60% of Americans.
Priests for Life National Director Fr. Frank Pavone:
By voting against the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, the overwhelming majority of Senate Democrats voted against the wishes of the American public, against science, and most importantly, against the human rights of innocent babies. Every Senator who voted to defeat this human rights legislation deserves to feel the pain of defeat at the ballot box.