The March for Life is always a somber event, even as we celebrate the enormous support for life in recent years. We march to remember the more than 56 million lives lost to abortion since the horrendous Roe v. Wade decision and to keep reminding the nation that we are better than this. We must do better.
And we are. For the first time in a long time more young people consider themselves pro-life than pro-“choice.” The abortion industry is so concerned about this trend they have even considered dropping the whole pro-choice label. The March for Life is the abortionists’ worst nightmare as the nation’s capital is overcome by thousands of young pro-life supporters and they are reminded of what the future awaits for them.
This year’s march was to be especially full of hope as a new crop of pro-life legislators just took office and the House leadership had promised a historic vote on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 36).
The bill is not new, it has passed the House before and it was introduced earlier this year in this Congress. The bill would prohibit most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy when we know babies feel pain.
Each January, anti-abortion protesters mark the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling with the March for Life in Washington, D.C. Attendance often reaches into the thousands, such as during the 25th anniversary march pictured here. The 40th March for Life on Jan. 25, 2013, will be the first without its founder, Nellie Gray, who died in August 2012.
The bill would pass overwhelmingly in this pro-life congress. This was to be the most significant pro-life victory since the passage of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban. The comparisons to that ban are appropriate because both of these measures deal with the most basic, common-sense protections for life.
In the partial-birth abortion case babies were being terminated after full development with only their heads inside the mother's body. And today, with the pain capable bill, again we are dealing with developed babies (after five months) where they are greatly advanced in their development inside the womb.
To give you an idea, the BabyCenter’s week by week video for this period says "At this stage, your baby may be able to hear your heartbeat and voice, so read aloud or sing a happy tune."
That's what we are dealing with in this bill. These babies can see, hear and they can feel pain. So as an abortionist inserts an instrument to end the baby's life, he or she will experience incredible pain.
This is not an extreme legislation. This is a humane legislation.
It should be easy then, right?
Wrong. Not only do we have the pro-abortion advocates who oppose any and all restrictions on what they consider "a woman's right to choose," but now (the day before the march!) some so-called pro-life members –led by Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) – stopped this historic vote, embarrassing GOP leadership and the whole pro-life movement. Shame on them!
The reason is that the bill includes a rape exception that required women to report the abuse to authorities. Whatever the case, they had the opportunity to deal with their concerns way in advance and should have come to an agreement before this embarrassment. This was not necessary.
Whatever amendments, the president had already promised to veto the bill and this was supposed to be a moment of unity and commitment to life that was lost and has left many questioning GOP leadership and commitment to life, not to mention the energizing of the other side.
Based on the fracture, the House Leadership had no choice but to switch the bill, at the last minute, and had a vote on the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act (H.R.7). This is a worthy bill that should be celebrated, but the poor handling of the H.R. 36 has no doubt affected its reception among the pro-life community.
Rest assured that Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee will continue to fight for the passage of H.R. 36 and we are keeping a close record of each member’s commitment to the unborn.
The bottom line is this: life begins at conception but at the very minimum we as a nation should be able to agree that at five months gestation babies deserve our legal protection. The U.S. is only one of seven countries that allows such gruesome late-term procedures. Shame on all of us if we can’t put an end to this atrocity.
Penny Young Nance is the President and CEO of Concerned Women for America, the nation's largest public policy women's organization.
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