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June 25, 2013

BEAM: Something to talk about


Take for instance the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act that the U.S. House passed last Tuesday by a largely party line, 228-196 vote. If enacted, the legislation would outlaw abortions after 20 weeks. Excluded from the bill are pregnancies caused by rape or incest or if the life of the mother is endangered. As reflected in the name, the authors of the bill justified the imposed time limit based on scientific studies that indicate a 20-week fetus can feel pain. 

Haven’t heard of the legislation? Neither had I until I ran across its passage on a Washington Post blog. Few media outlets covered it, most likely due to the slim chance it has for becoming law. 

Because of the partisan nature of the issue, Senate passage remains unlikely. Just in case, the White House issued a statement threatening to veto the act that, in their words, would “unacceptably restrict women’s health and reproductive rights and is an assault on a woman’s right to choose.” 

In general, polls suggest a majority of Americans support some restrictions on abortion. According to results from a May 2013 Gallop poll, 69 percent of respondents opposed abortions past the second trimester of pregnancy. Include only third trimester abortions and the number of those against the procedure increased to 80 percent. In general though, 51 percent considered themselves pro-choice and 35 percent claim to be pro-life. Like me, only 7 percent don’t really know which group they belong.

Despite these and other surveys that show citizens’ apprehension about the late term procedure, the pro-choice lobby for the most part remains unwilling to give in to regulations on abortion for fear it may lead to a roundabout invalidation of Roe v. Wade, even if the acts in question seem particularly horrific. 

Let’s face it. While rare, the recent Gosnell trial brought the atrocities that can occur at these clinics to the public’s attention and rightfully so. And while reproductive rights are important, pro-choice advocates must realize that the unborn child at some point has rights too. 

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