As Marchers for Life will be stomping their feet and blowing on their hands to keep warm next Thursday, inside the U. S. Capitol something unprecedented will be happening.
To begin with, the 114th Congress will actually be in session (as I recall, more frequently than not they avoid being in town on January 22)!
But what is historic is that not only will they be in session, but in those hallowed halls they will actually be voting on a pro-life measure on the day of the March for Life! That, at least, is the plan of the House leadership as of press time.
The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is scheduled for a vote by the House of Representatives on the morning of January 22, a date chosen on purpose by the leadership of the House. Conceivably, by the time of the Rally, there could be results to announce.
The Act would protect from abortion unborn children from the fetal age of 20 weeks, based on Congressional finding that by this point in development, if not earlier, the unborn child is capable of experiencing pain. Ten states have already enacted similar Pain-Capable Unborn Child legislation, and more are considering it even now.
There isn’t actually anything new about the bill, except its number: H.R. 36 in the new 114th Congress. Reps. Trent Franks (R-AZ.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) are the lead sponsors in the House (kudos to them!).
As of this past Wednesday, there were 141 co-sponsors, two of whom were Democrats. But there are 246 Republicans in the House of Representatives. Any who aren’t co-sponsors better have a good reason why not!
An identical bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives in the 113th Congress, in 2013, by a margin of 228-196.
In 2013, of course, Harry Reid (D-NV) was in charge in the Senate, so nothing further happened on the bill. This time around, the new Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), has promised that the Senate will take it up. The lead Senate sponsor is Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who introduced the bill in 2013.
Of course, there’s still the same President as in 2013, and getting to 51 votes in the U.S. Senate is not a foregone conclusion by any means—let alone getting to the 60 votes necessary to override the President’s certain veto.
But that’s not the point.
The point is that all through the spring we can look forward to the slow, deliberative process of the Senate, as the bill works its way through hearings and markup . . . and all the media exposure attendant thereon. Think of the opportunities this will create to tell reporters that yes, indeed, unborn children are capable of feeling pain.
After all, it will be political news at that point so (some of them at least) will have to cover the hearings. The reporters may be skeptical or they may be hostile, but they still have to turn in a story. That means they will have to interview some pro-life advocates (even if they’re just pretending to be balanced).
Think of the woman planning an abortion who hears that news report while she’s waiting in line at the gas station . . . and is astonished to learn that she will be causing pain to what she has been told is a “blob of tissue.” It just might cause her to reconsider her plan.
And as more Americans hear that unborn babies feel pain, it will further support the growing trend in American opinion to favor more and more restrictions on abortion. And if Congress passes it, it’s easier for representatives in state legislatures to vote for it too.
Stay tuned for follow-up next week.
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Connie Marshner has been a pro-life, pro-family researcher, grassroots trainer, organizer, and lobbyist; manager; writer; homeschooler; editor; campaign adviser; coalition leader; fundraiser; and political strategist. She is absolutely thrilled now to be a blogger for Human Life Review.