“Speaking for those who cannot speak”

Seven-week-old fetus in an amniotic sac © Peter Endig

Conservatives in the U.S. Senate want to further restrict abortions by law and allow abortions after 20. Punishing the first week of pregnancy. But it won’t pass without Democrats’ yes vote.

A bill proposed by conservatives in the U.S. House of Representatives would send people to prison for up to five years for performing abortions starting at 20. Pregnancy week still carry out. Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced his caucus would support the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (Eng. Protection Act for Pain-Capable Unborn Children) on 3. October to put to the vote.

Trump in favor of tightening the law

"We have an obligation to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves," McCarthy justified renewed push in Congress. Under the draft, exceptions would apply only in cases of rape, incest and life-threatening circumstances for the mother. U.S. President Donald Trump had already announced during the election campaign that he would sign such a bill, provided it passed through both chambers of Congress. Republicans have repeatedly failed to do just that in recent years.

The House of Representatives had passed similar bills in 2013 and most recently in 2015. In both cases, the Senate did not move, which would have to pass identical legislation for a new abortion criminal law to go to the president for his signature. Because Senate Democrats voted unanimously against the bills, both attempts fell short of the necessary votes.

Filibuster procedure to block amendment

Prospects for the new initiative don’t look much better. The Republicans have a razor-thin majority in the Senate, but not the 60 votes to initiate a so-called filibuster (note. d. Red.: political tactics to prevent or delay a resolution from being passed by the Democrats through permanent speeches). This allows the opposition to effectively block a vote.

As was last the case in 2015, it’s all about Republicans showing their base they’re trying. The restriction to the 20. Week of pregnancy has been at the top of the wish list of numerous pro-life organizations for quite some time. "We want to be there for women, but we also need a law that protects children," says the president of the Susan B. Anthony List," Marjorie Dannenfelser.

Pro-life movement refers to new studies

Their organization now numbers more than 330.000 members and aims to drastically reduce the abortion rate in the U.S. The targeted deadline refers to recent scientific findings that showed fetuses could feel pain from that point onward. Add to that medical advances. As recently as the 1970s, when the U.S. Constitutional Court ied the landmark ruling Roe vs. ‘Wade’ fetuses were considered before 28. week of pregnancy as non-viable.

The "Charlotte Lozier Institute," which is close to the pro-life movement, shows in a study that fetuses are even viable from as early as 16. Week of pregnancy showed hormonal responses to stress. From this, the institute infers that fetuses could suffer pain if aborted.

Significantly increased chances of survival after abortion

At the same time, survival rates for premature babies have been rising in recent years. Pro-life supporters point to the example of little Micah Pickering, who was born at 20 weeks. His mother, introducing the bill in the U.S. Congress, explained how her son was born barely viable five years ago and now attends kindergarten as a healthy boy.

"Micah is the face of the pro-life movement," said House Pro-Life Caucus Chairman Chris Smith. If not for his parents’ fight for his life, "he could have been yet another victim of the abortion culture".

The prestigious New England Journal of Medicine confirms studies that, regardless of one’s position in the abortion debate, the chances of survival have increased significantly. U.S. population deeply divided on abortion ie. A poll conducted by Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut, in January of this year shows that supporters and opponents are evenly matched.

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