NRLC Scorecard Letter on H.R. 36 (Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act)

RE: Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 36)

Dear Member of Congress:

The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the nationwide federation of state right-to-life organizations, urges you to support the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 36) when it comes before the House of Representatives on Tuesday October 3rd, and will include the roll call on passage of the bill in our scorecard of key pro-life votes of the 115th Congress.

This legislation extends general protection to unborn children who are at least 20 weeks beyond fertilization (which is equivalent to 22 weeks of pregnancy — about the start of the sixth month). This vital legislation is similar to laws enacted in 16 states beginning in 2010, based on National Right to Life model legislation.

There is abundant evidence – summarized in the findings of the bill – that by this point in development (and probably earlier), the unborn child has the capacity to experience excruciating pain during typical abortion procedures.

It is now commonplace to read about evidence that, by 20 weeks fetal age and even earlier, an unborn child responds to many forms of stimuli, including music and the mother’s voice. Claims that the same child is nevertheless insensible to the violence done to her body during an abortion should engender strong skepticism. Abortions at this stage typically are performed using a variety of techniques, including a method in which the unborn child’s arms and legs are twisted off by brute manual force, using a long stainless steel clamping tool. A medical illustration of this common method is posted here:

Some of the extensive scientific evidence that unborn children have the capacity to experience pain, at least by 20 weeks, is available at these URLs:

Late abortions are not “rare.” At least 275 facilities offer abortions past 20 weeks fetal age.

In a nationwide poll of 1,623 registered voters, The Quinnipiac University Poll found that 60% would support a law such as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act prohibiting abortion after 20 weeks, while only 33% opposed such legislation. Women voters split 59-35% in support of such a law, while independent voters supported it by 56-36%.

Should you have any questions, please contact us at 202-626-8820, or via e-mail at you for your consideration of NRLC’s position on this vital legislation.


Carol Tobias


David N. O’Steen, Ph.D.
Executive Director


Jennifer Popik, J.D.
Legislative Director