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20-week abortions: Should they be banned?

Screen shot from prolifeinformation's YouTube video: Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) on Pain Capable Bill (HR 36)

Tuesday the house passed HR 36 or the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act by a vote of 237-189. This bill, also known as the 20-week abortion ban, would criminalize abortions after twenty weeks, with the doctor who preformed the procedure facing a prison term of up to five years in jail. However, it is highly unlikely the bill will pass the senate because of the 60 vote threshold to stop a filibuster.

When GOP whip Senator John Cornyn was asked about taking up the bill he said, “That’s not a near-term priority.” So despite it passing the house and President Trump’s long support of the bill dating back to the campaign, it is highly doubtful that it will become law anytime soon. Abortion may be the most hotly battled social issue this country has, and both sides are entrenched in their positions. 

The people who want abortions banned post twenty weeks are extremely passionate and believe they are protecting the lives of children. They also believe at twenty weeks fetuses can feel pain and if someone can feel pain they are alive. Therefore, to abort the pregnancy is nothing short of the cold blooded murder of a defenseless infant.

Sponsor of HR36, Rep. Trent Franks, speaking in favor of the bill on the house floor.

On the other side of the coin you have people who believe they have scientific proof that a fetus cannot feel pain at twenty weeks. The Journal of the American Medical Association looked at when a fetus first starts to feel pain in 2005. They found that babies do not start developing the structures needed to feel pain until as early as week twenty-three or as late as week thirty. Furthermore, people who are against late term abortion feel that twenty weeks is an arbitrary number designed to weaken Roe v. Wade. By shorting the window for a women to have an abortion you are not taking into consideration the financial and travel implications of getting an abortion. Abortions are not cheap and so financially strapped individuals must take the time to save up. Also, pro-life advocates have been very good at lowering the number of clinics that perform abortions. This sometimes means women have to travel a great distance to have an abortion. Finally there is the inaccuracy of judging when someone has conceived. It is not uncommon for a women to be given a wrong date. If a women thinks she is at nineteen weeks and takes a few more days to really think about what she is going to do and then goes to the doctor to get the procedure but the doctor finds she is actually twenty-one weeks then her right to choose has been taken from her without her consent.

Rep. Suzan DelBene speaking against HR36 on house floor.

The Issue

Abortion is not an easy topic to discuss, and both sides have valid points. One side thinks they have the moral high ground on their side, and the other thinks they have the reality of how hard life is on theirs. This particular debate isn’t really questioning the legality of abortion as a whole, but rather at what point “late term” should be defined. Should twenty weeks be considered late term, and thus abortions from that point on be banned?

In opposition to banning 20-week abortions

In support of banning 20-week abortions

So, do you think late term abortions should be banned starting at twenty weeks?

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