Photo credit: Ron Cogswell (CC-By-2.0)

Forty-six Republican Senators have backed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act formally introducing the bill that passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday afternoon 237-187.

The bill also called Micah’s Law after Micah Pickering who was born prematurely at 22-weeks in Newton, Iowa, amends the federal criminal code to make it a crime for any person to perform or attempt to perform an abortion if the probable post-fertilization age of the fetus is 20 weeks or more with exceptions for the life of the mother, as well as, in cases of rape and incest. A violator – the abortionist, not the mother – is subject to criminal penalties—a fine, up to five years in prison, or both.

“At five month gestational age, babies have 10 fingers and 10 toes, they can yawn, stretch, make faces – and they can feel pain,” U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), one of the cosigners, said. “It’s unconscionable that the United States is currently one of only 7 countries in the world that allows abortions after five months; we are currently in the same company of China and North Korea. I’m fighting for this legislation in honor of my friend and fellow Iowan, Micah Pickering, an incredible 5-year-old who was born prematurely, at five months gestation. This legislation could protect up to 10,000 lives like Micah’s every year by preventing abortions after about 5 months of development, and it is absolutely critical that the Senate take up this legislation to protect our most vulnerable.”

“There are only seven countries that allow wholesale abortions at the 20-week period, including China and North Korea. The United States should not be in that club,” U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), chief Senate sponsor of the bill, said. “I don’t believe abortion, five months into pregnancy, makes us a better nation.  America is at her best when she’s standing up for the least among us and the sooner we pass this legislation into law, the better. We are on the right side of history.”

“I applaud the House for passing this bill; it is now time for the Senate to act on this. So many children are alive, healthy, and growing today who were born prematurely at five months pregnancy. We should not allow elective abortions past five months of pregnancy, especially when science shows that unborn babies feel pain at this stage,” said U.S. Senator James Lankford (R-Oklahoma).

“Washington has a debate between empty euphemisms like ‘choice’ and basic science – none of the usual euphemisms change the fact that a 20-week old baby can see, swallow, and flex her arms and legs,” U.S. Senator Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska) stated. “Americans rightly condemn human rights abuses around the world because we judge societies on how they take care of their most vulnerable members – there’s no good reason for the United States to be on a list of human rights abusers like China and North Korea in allowing these kinds of abortions.”

The Senators were joined at the press conference by representatives of organizations which strongly support the legislation and have worked to help push for its passage.  They include National Right to Life Committee, Susan B. Anthony List, Family Research Council, Americans United for Life, and Concerned Women for America.

The list of Senators cosponsoring the bill includes John Barrasso, Roy Blunt, John Boozman, Richard Burr, Bill Cassidy, Thad Cochran, Bob Corker, John Cornyn, Tom Cotton, Mike Crapo, Ted Cruz, Steve Daines, Joni Ernst, Mike Enzi, Jeff Flake, Deb Fischer, Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch, John Hoeven, James Inhofe, Johnny Isakson, Ron Johnson, John Kennedy, James Lankford, Mike Lee, Jerry Moran, John McCain, Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul, David Perdue, Rob Portman, James Risch, Pat Roberts, Mike Rounds, Marco Rubio, Ben Sasse, Tim Scott, Richard Shelby, Luther Strange, Dan Sullivan, John Thune, Thom Tillis, Pat Toomey, Roger Wicker, and Todd Young.

The same bill passed the House in 2015 on a 242-184 vote, but the Senate failed to invoke cloture 54 to 42, six shy of the votes needed to bypass a filibuster. The bill will be difficult to pass in the Senate outside of a reconciliation bill or the Senate changing its rules.

U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Cory Gardner (R-Colorado), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Dean Heller (R-Nevada), Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee), and Shelly Moore Capito (R-West Virginia) did not join their Republican colleagues in co-sponsoring the bill.

Polling conduted by the polling company, inc./Women Trend in November 2016 showed support for limiting abortions after five months is high among voters in states carried by President Trump that are represented by vulnerable Democratic Senators facing re-election in 2018 they are U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin), Jon Tester (D-Montana), Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), Bill Nelson (D-Florida), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota).

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