U.S. House Will Vote on July 31 on Bill to Overturn Policy of Legal Abortion Until Birth in the Nation’s Capital


WASHINGTON (July 27, 2012) — The U.S. House of Representatives will vote on Tuesday, July 31, 2012, on legislation that would end the current legal policy allowing abortion, for any reason, until the moment of birth in the nation’s capital.

The legislation, the District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 3803), is strongly backed by the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the nationwide federation of state right-to-life organizations.

The Council of the District of Columbia, employing authority delegated by Congress, repealed the entire D.C. abortion law. Thus, in the nation’s capital, abortion is currently legal for any reason through all nine months of pregnancy. (See confirmation by the Associated Press, here.)

This roll call will be a landmark – the House has never before voted on the question of whether to endorse legal abortion for any reason until birth,” said NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson. “Under the Constitution, members of Congress and the President are ultimately accountable for the current abortion-until-birth policy. Any lawmaker who votes against this bill is voting to ratify the extreme policy currently in effect in the nation’s capital, where abortion is perfectly legal for any reason until the moment of birth.”

“If we can achieve a big majority on this groundbreaking initial vote, it will lay the foundation to achieve legal protection for pain-capable unborn babies in the not-distant future,” Johnson said.

The bill, sponsored by Congressman Trent Franks (R-Az.), was approved by the House Judiciary Committee just last week, and is being brought to the House floor on a fast-track procedure. In the bill, Congress adopts findings that by 20 weeks after fertilization (if not earlier), the unborn child has the capacity to experience great pain. (This is equivalent to 22 weeks in the alternate “LMP” or “weeks of pregnancy” dating system used by ob-gyns and abortion providers.) The bill prohibits abortion after that point, except when an acute physical condition endangers the life of the mother. Seven states have already enacted very similar legislation; no court orders have blocked enforcement of any of those laws.

The District Clause of the U.S. Constitution (found in Article I, Section 8) provides that “Congress shall . . . exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District . . .” Like any other “legislation,” of course, it is subject to the President’s review.

H.R. 3803 currently has 223 House cosponsors. (218 constitutes a House majority when all seats are filled and all members vote.)

According to a nationwide live telephone poll of 1,000 adults (MOE +/-3.1%), conducted July 12-15, 2012 by The Polling Company, Inc./WomanTrend, by more than a 2-to-1 margin (58-27%), American adults would be more likely to vote for lawmakers who support this legislation. Women were more likely by 62-27%, and men more likely by 53-27%. (The questions and response totals are available in a document here.)

In response to a separate poll question, respondents favored, by a 3-to-1 margin (63-21%), a policy of not permitting abortion anywhere “after the point where substantial medical evidence says that the unborn child can feel pain,” unless it is “necessary to save a mother’s life.” Women said “should not be permitted” by a margin of 70-18% percent. Men said “should not be permitted” by a margin of 55-25%.

The NRLC website provides links to abundant documentation on the scientific authorities that support the bill’s findings that unborn children, by 20 weeks fetal age if not before, have the capacity to experience great pain, here. The abortion method most often used at this stage, the “D&E,” is depicted in a medical illustration, here. The poll results and other information on the legislation is also posted at http://www.nrlc.org/abortion/fetalpain

Founded in 1968, the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the federation of 50 state right-to-life affiliates and more than 3,000 local chapters, is the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots pro-life organization.