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January 27, 2021

Inhofe, Graham, Senate Colleagues Reintroduce The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) joined Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and their Senate colleagues today to reintroduce the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. 

The legislation would provide common-sense protections for unborn children at 20 weeks after fertilization, a point at which there is significant scientific evidence that abortion inflicts tremendous pain on the unborn. 

“By at least 20 weeks of age, babies can feel pain,” said Inhofe. “Tragically, the United States is one of only seven countries that permits abortion after this point. The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would ban abortions when a baby can feel pain and remove us from a list that includes China and North Korea—countries notorious for their human rights violations. We must continue to protect the sanctity of life, especially with this administration’s efforts to undo our progress at respecting the dignity of all life.”  

“Every life is valuable—born or unborn,” said Lankford. “It shouldn’t be controversial to say that if a child survives an attempted abortion and is living outside his or her mother, that baby deserves to receive care. We should all agree that tax dollars should not fund abortion on demand in the United States or overseas. When science has shown a child can feel pain, they should not be subjected to a dismemberment abortion. And if a healthcare professional has a moral objection to participating in an abortion procedure, which by definition is the taking of life, they should not be forced by their employer to destroy the life they pledged to protect. Protecting life should not be a partisan issue; it should be an American issue. I am proud to speak up for the millions of children who cannot speak for themselves and honor their right to life.”  

Sen. Graham has introduced the Pain-Capable legislation the last four Congresses and Inhofe has cosponsored each time.  

“I am proud to once again introduce the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” Graham said. “There are only seven countries that allow wholesale abortions at the 20-week period, including China and North Korea. The United States should not be in that club.”  

“I don’t believe abortion, five months into pregnancy, makes us a better nation,” said Graham. “America is at her best when she’s standing up for the least among us, and the sooner we pass this legislation into law, the better. We are on the right side of history.” 

The legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), John Boozman (R-Arkansas), Mike Braun (R-Indiana), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Steve Daines (R-Montana), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Bill Hagerty (R-Tennessee), Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), John Hoeven (R-North Dakota), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Mississippi), Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), John Kennedy (R-Louisiana), James Lankford (R-Oklahoma), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyoming), Roger Marshall (R-Kansas), Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), James Risch (R-Idaho), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Mike Rounds (R-South Dakota), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska), Rick Scott (R-Florida), Tim Scott (R-South Carolina), Richard Shelby (R-Alabama), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), John Thune (R-South Dakota), Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania), Tommy Tuberville (R-Alabama), Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi), and Todd Young (R-Indiana).  

Statements from Cosponsors of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act 

“Congress must protect innocent human life. The science is clear - unborn babies feel pain. Congress must follow the science and our conscience and end late-term abortions.” – Senator John Barrasso 

“There should be no question as to whether pain-capable unborn children should be protected by federal law. The majority of Americans believe elective abortion after 20 weeks should be banned. And, our nation is one of only seven in the world to allow it, including China and North Korea. I will continue standing for life and giving a voice to the voiceless.” – Senator Roy Blunt 

“There is no clearer indication that America is in moral crisis than to understand that babies in the womb feel pain as early as 20 weeks old, yet are still allowed to be victims of gruesome abortion procedures that end their lives in agonizing fashion. Science and medical technology increasingly affirm this truth. It is past time for us to protect these innocent, vulnerable lives and spare them from that fate. I’m thankful my colleagues are standing together in support of this legislation that promotes the value and dignity of every human being.” – Senator John Boozman  

“From the moment of conception until natural death, each human life is intrinsically unique and worth protecting. I am a proud cosponsor of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which protects unborn children who are 20 weeks’ gestation and older. This bill is a positive step forward in promoting a culture of life.” – Senator Mike Braun 

"Medical science increasingly confirms the common experience of parents and the religious and ethical belief of the ages: an unborn baby is just as much a person as each of us-only more innocent, more helpless, and therefore even more deserving of protection. I look forward to working with my colleagues to promote a culture of life and bring this legislation to the floor for a vote." – Senator Tom Cotton 

“Late-term abortion is choosing to end the life of an unborn child who can feel pain just like anyone else. It has no place in a society which values life and should be banned, as our legislation dictates.” – Senator Kevin Cramer  

“Studies show that babies can feel pain by 20 weeks – and I believe it is unconscionable to subject a child, at any stage in their life, to such pain. These are precious lives that must be protected.” – Senator Steve Daines 

“Five months into pregnancy, we know that babies – like Micah Pickering of Iowa – are full of life: making faces, wiggling their toes and fingers, and feeling pain. The United States is only one of seven countries that permits abortions after five months, putting us in the company of Communist China and North Korea. This effort is about protecting our most vulnerable from painful death—a unifying cause that should meet the approval standard of all of my colleagues because supporting this bill means giving the Micah Pickerings of the world an equal fighting chance.” – Senator Joni Ernst  

“I am proud to support the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban abortions at and beyond the point where the unborn would experience significant pain. Nebraska was the first state to pass such legislation, and I was proud to support it in the Nebraska Unicameral. This science-based bill represents a crucial defense of life.” – Senator Deb Fischer  

“Many Americans overwhelmingly support restrictions on late-term abortions. That’s for good reason. One Iowan, Micah Pickering, was born early at 20 weeks. Today, Micah is living proof that just 20 weeks can create a beautiful human life. It’s time for Congress to pass this bill and help ensure that other human lives also have a real chance.” – Senator Chuck Grassley  

“As a father of four, I understand the value of life, and I believe strongly in protecting our most vulnerable. Research shows that unborn children can feel pain at 20 weeks, and I’m joining Senator Graham’s legislation as an original co-sponsor to make this practice illegal.” – Senator Bill Hagerty 

“The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act aligns with not only North Dakota’s standards to protect the unborn, but with the vast majority of our global allies. Now more than ever, it’s important that we remain united in defending life, and I once again join my colleagues in cosponsoring this important legislation which garnered bipartisan support when it was considered in the Senate last Congress.” – Senator John Hoeven 

“Protecting the dignity of life extends to protecting the unborn, especially from the point at which the innocent child is capable of feeling pain. Mississippians support such protections, and the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would correctly establish these standards on a nationwide level.” – Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith 

“The United States is one of a very few countries, including China and North Korea, that allow elective abortions after 20 weeks. It has been scientifically proven that babies at this age can suck their thumbs, make faces, and yawn—they can also feel pain. We have an obligation to create laws that protect God-given life no matter how young a person is. Everyone with an ounce of compassion or common sense should be able to support this legislation.” – Senator John Kennedy 

“Every life is valuable—born or unborn. It shouldn’t be controversial to say that if a child survives an attempted abortion and is living outside his or her mother, that baby deserves to receive care. We should all agree that tax dollars should not fund abortion on demand in the United States or overseas. When science has shown a child can feel pain, they should not be subjected to a dismemberment abortion. And if a healthcare professional has a moral objection to participating in an abortion procedure, which by definition is the taking of life, they should not be forced by their employer to destroy the life they pledged to protect. Protecting life should not be a partisan issue; it should be an American issue. I am proud to speak up for the millions of children who cannot speak for themselves and honor their right to life.” – Senator James Lankford 

“I was proud to stand for the right to life as an elected official in the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, and I’m proud to do so again in the Senate, with Senator Graham as he reintroduces the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. This is a common-sense bill supported by the science and by the majority of Americans. It’s time we pass this bill into law.” – Senator Cynthia Lummis 

“Being pro-life is just part of who I am and there is no other alternative. As an obstetrician, it’s been a thrill of my life to get to bring thousands of babies into the world and now it’s a thrill of my life to be in the U.S. Senate and continue the fight for pro-life policies. While those on the far left including in the new Administration continue to advocate against human life, I will keep doing what Kansans sent me to Washington to do: continue my lifelong fight for the wellbeing of mothers and their babies and working to end the barbaric practice of abortion.” – Senator Roger Marshall  

“Every year, thousands of unborn children are aborted after 20 weeks gestation—a point where we know, based on science, those babies can feel pain. I will always vote to defend the sanctity of life and hope that one day we will become a society that protects our most vulnerable, instead of one that permits their destruction.” – Senator Jerry Moran 

“We must enact policies that protect the lives of our children, both born and unborn. I am proud to join my colleagues in reintroducing this legislation to prohibit abortions at 20 weeks, the point at which scientific evidence suggests an unborn child is able to feel pain.” – Senator Mitt Romney 

“It’s unconscionable that protecting the life of a newborn who survived a botched abortion is a partisan issue today, yet it speaks volumes about how radical extremism has become mainstream in today’s Democratic Party. Long gone are the days when Democrats preached that abortion should be ‘safe, legal, and rare.’ The Biden Administration believes American taxpayers should fund abortions in foreign nations, and the Democrat Party is supports legal infanticide. I will always be a champion of the right to life — the most sacred and fundamental of all human rights.” – Senator Marco Rubio  

“In the United States, we believe in the sanctity of life and the value that each child brings into this world. Although not yet born, these babies are capable of feeling pain, and we must work to protect their lives just the same. I hope all my colleagues join me in protecting life and pass this legislation quickly.” – Senator Rick Scott 

“It is unthinkable that we are killing babies who are so far advanced that it is possible for them to survive outside their mothers. This legislation would ban abortions 20 weeks into pregnancy – a point at which science has clearly demonstrated that the unborn child is able to feel pain.” – Senator John Thune 

Background on Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act 

At the age of 20 weeks post-fertilization, scientific evidence tells us an unborn child can feel pain. Anesthesia is administered directly to the unborn child in second-trimester fetal surgery. The unborn child shows physical, chemical, brain and stress responses demonstrating pain at this stage of development. 

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is based in science, has overwhelming public support, and is necessary to protect unborn children from painful and untimely deaths. 

Highlights: 

  • This legislation protects unborn babies after 20 weeks or five months, more than halfway through pregnancy.
  • The United States is one of only seven countries that allows on-demand abortions past 20 weeks. The other six are: North Korea, China, Vietnam, Singapore, Canada, and the Netherlands. Pain-Capable legislation has already passed in South Carolina and other states. They include Ohio, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Indiana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Idaho, Iowa, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, and Arizona.
  • Advances in modern medicine help babies born at 20, 21 and 22 weeks post-fertilization survive outside the womb. The pain these babies feel outside the womb gives evidence to the pain their unborn counterparts feel while in utero.

  • Ultrasounds show unborn babies at 20 weeks sucking their thumb, yawning, stretching and making faces.
 Summary of Provisions: 
  • The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would make it illegal for any person to perform, or attempt to perform, an abortion without first making a determination of the probable post-fertilization age of the unborn child.
  • If the post-fertilization age of the unborn child is determined to be 20 weeks or greater, an abortion shall not be performed, unless –
    • It is necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman;
    • The pregnancy is a result of rape and the woman has received medical treatment or counseling at least 48 hours prior to the abortion; or if she chooses to do so, has made a report to law enforcement; or
    • The pregnancy is a result of rape or incest against a minor and the abuse is reported to either social services or law enforcement.
  • In the case of the exceptions –
    • the abortion may only proceed in a manner that provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive unless that would pose a greater risk of death or serious bodily injury to the pregnant woman; and
    • the abortion provider must receive informed consent from the pregnant woman, certifying that she has been provided the child’s gestational age, a description of the law, and her rights under the law.
  • A woman on whom an abortion was performed in violation of this Act may bring a civil action against the abortion provider in court to recover damages.
  • Abortion doctors are required to submit annual data to the National Center for Health and Statistics providing statistical information about abortions carried out after 20 weeks post-fertilization age.
  • The criminal punishment for a violation of this Act is imprisonment of up to five years, fines, or both.

  • The Act makes clear that a woman who receives an illegal abortion in violation of this act may not be prosecuted.


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