As we reported last week, ACLJ attorneys recently appeared before a committee of Maryland state legislators in support of two critical pro-life bills, one requiring meaningful informed consent for women considering abortion, and the other restricting abortions after the child is 20 weeks old in the womb – old enough to feel pain.
The bill I presented testimony about was Maryland HB 975, courageously sponsored by Delegate Robin Grammer along with 22 other Delegates. Put simply, this bill restricts abortions once the unborn baby is developed enough to feel pain. As I explained to the committee, it is undeniable that medical science shows that babies feel pain by at least 20 weeks post-fertilization (22 weeks gestational age) – yet Maryland continues to allow unquestionably painful and torturous abortion procedures on these helpless children.
It is also undeniable that children of this age are surviving outside the womb. This means the Pain Capable bill Maryland is considering would merely restrict abortions committed against children who are “viable” – something that the Supreme Court’s abortion jurisprudence clearly allows states to do.
Think about it – doctors give unborn children anesthesia for in utero surgery. But abortionists are allowed to rip a baby apart, even though they are old enough that we know they feel pain.
Like a nightmarish scene from the Dark Ages, this is nothing more than execution by torture. It is disgusting and it must end.
We must continue to demand that our states stop these barbaric procedures. We must urge our lawmakers to face the truth about abortion.
That is why the ACLJ recently filed a brief at the U.S. Supreme Court urging it to make clear that states may end brutal dismemberment abortions.
And, that is why we went to Maryland’s capital to implore its legislators to do the right thing as well.
Advocates for the abortion industry were there in Maryland, too. But they had no real answers to counter the testimony of witness after witness who described the horror and terror abortion imposes upon women and children. If I could sum up what the Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and NARAL Pro Choice America lobbyists told the committee members in one statement, it is this: These pro-life bills are bad because they would decrease the number of abortions. In other words, these bills were bad for business.
The abortion industry’s business model is built on death and profits. As such, they’ll do anything to make sure the demand for abortions doesn’t stop. They oppose informed consent for women, keeping them from making a real “choice.” They oppose any restrictions on minors getting abortions or requirements for parental consent or involvement. They oppose any restrictions on third trimester abortions during (or, as Virginia Governor Ralph Northam revealed, even after) birth. They oppose clinical regulations for abortionists that even an urgent care or outpatient surgical center must comply with. They oppose simple administrative reporting requirements so states cannot keep track of how many abortions occur. They even oppose legal protections for babies born alive after failed abortions, and they stood against the prohibition of infanticide. They oppose anything that hurts their bottom line.
They’re committed. But so are we.
Here is the written testimony I submitted to Maryland lawmakers:
For the reasons set forth herein, the American Center for Law & Justice (“ACLJ”), on behalf of over 352,000 concerned citizens, including nearly 4,500 from Maryland, who have signed our Petition to Ban Abortions After 20 weeks, urges that Maryland legislators vote YES on H.B. 975.
The Pain-Capable Bill is constitutional under the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court precedent.
1. The Pain-Capable Bill is a Post-Viability Bill.
It is undisputed that the abortion precedents of the U.S. Supreme Court allow states to prohibit abortion after viability, subject to an exception for serious threats to the mother’s life and health. See Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973); Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992). Viability means the ability to survive outside the womb, including with proper medical care. A study from a few years ago found that actively treated newborns as early as 22 weeks gestational age were surviving.
The bill at issue today merely serves to protect viable babies, which is clearly and unarguably allowed under Supreme Court precedent. “Gestational age” is measured from a woman’s last menstrual period and is often referred to by the acronym LMP. Because the conception (fertilization) of the new child typically takes place about two weeks after LMP, an unborn child’s “post-fertilization age” will correspond to an LMP that is two weeks greater. With regard to the proposed Pain-Capable Bill, then, a post-fertilization age of 20 weeks means a gestational/LMP age of 22 weeks. That, in turn, means that the prohibition on aborting babies after 20 weeks post-fertilization means a prohibition on aborting babies after 22 weeks LMP – precisely the age at which studies have found babies are surviving outside the womb.
Again, the Pain-Capable Bill is a post-viability abortion restriction – exactly what the Supreme Court has repeatedly said is permissible.
2. The Pain-Capable Bill is an Anti-Torture Bill.
Even if Supreme Court Precedent supporting this bill did not exist, there would still be solid grounds to uphold the constitutionality of the bill. In Gonzales v. Carhart (2007), the Supreme Court ruled that its past precedent “confirms the State’s interest in promoting respect for human life at all stages of the pregnancy.” As Justice Kennedy wrote in his dissent in Stenberg v. Carhart (2000), a dissent subsequently vindicated in Gonzales, “States also have an interest in forbidding medical procedures which, in the State’s reasonable determination, might cause the medical profession or society as a whole to become insensitive, even disdainful, to life, including life in the human fetus.”
It is well established that pain receptors are present throughout the baby’s entire body by no later than 20 weeks after fertilization, or 22 weeks LMP, and that nerves link these receptors to the brain’s thalamus. Thus, as indicated above, this bill covers the exact time period at which unborn babies are known to feel pain. In fact, by this time in its development, an unborn child will recoil if the stimulus introduced would be painful if applied to an adult human.
Science also reveals that such painful stimuli increases the unborn baby’s stress hormones and is associated with long-term harmful neurodevelopmental effects. This is precisely why, when undergoing in utero surgery, anesthesia is given to the unborn baby.
Common abortion methods are barbaric, and it is preposterous to think that anything resembling common abortion methods would be allowed by law on anyone outside the womb. The thought that these procedures are allowed by law on the most helpless – unborn children – is unconscionable. It can be no coincidence that its victims have no voice in the political process. As such, abortion is, by its very nature, a procedure that tortures and kills a live human being – an unborn child who is sufficiently developed to feel pain. Thus, it is plainly a procedure that fosters insensitivity to, and disdain for, the life in the womb. If torturing animals is inhumane, so much more so is torturing unborn human children to death. The State of Maryland clearly has a legitimate interest in prohibiting this type of practice. In fact, it has an obligation to do so. The Pain-Capable Bill unquestionably promotes respect for human life.
3. The Pain-Capable Bill Contains Valuable Testing and Reporting Requirements.
The Pain-Capable Bill also includes important additional requirements, namely, that the abortionist should first determine the gestational age of the child and report basic statistical data about the abortion. Measuring the length of the pregnancy and size/age of the child before undertaking any medical procedure, including abortion, would seem to be essential to avoiding malpractice, and thus is protective of maternal health. Collecting demographic data about abortions is just common sense when dealing with such a widespread procedure of uncertain health consequences. Indeed, the Supreme Court has repeatedly endorsed the constitutionality of recordkeeping and reporting requirements for abortion.
In short, for the reasons stated above, the proposed bill should be upheld as valid under the U.S. Constitution and furthers the State of Maryland’s legitimate interest in the life of the unborn child and the health of the child’s mother.
We are grateful to our friends at Maryland Right to Life who sponsored us and gave us the opportunity to participate in the Maryland legislature.
As long as the mammoth abortion industry exploits women and children for gain, as long as it holds its grip on pliable judges and legislators at every level of government, as long as it receives public taxpayer dollars, and as long as it enjoys the cover of what we’ve long called the abortion distortion, the tireless fight for life must wage on. And we’ll remain right in the thick of it. But we need you to join us.
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