Of all the indefensible claims made by abortionists, there are some that apparently even they can't bring themselves to take seriously — or argue in court.
Take, for example, the abortion lobby's allegations against the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a law now being enforced in 15 states and with a national version set to come up for a vote in the House of Representatives next week.
The measure has been on the books since Nebraska passed the first such law in 2010, protecting from abortion any unborn babies old enough to feel the pain of having their arms and legs ripped from their bodies. Yet, while major abortion profiteers and their enablers verbalize opposition to the legislation year after year, they remain all talk and no lawsuit.
That's because those who sit atop abortion's carnage realize that there are some aspects of their trade that are so gruesome, so repulsive, that even they can't spin them away with vague euphemisms. In their eyes, it's better to keep such matters hidden in darkness.
That's why the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, developed by the National Right to Life Committee, presents problems for the abortion industry — it makes facing the reality of abortion unavoidable. If the law were brought into court, two inescapable facts would come to the public's attention: that aborted babies are people with arms, legs, and faces, not "clumps of cells"; and that these children suffer horrible pain when their appendages are wrenched from their bodies.
When pain-capable unborn child protection bills do come up in state legislatures, as they have in the last year when Ohio and Kentucky adopted them, abortion promoters oppose the measures with a couple of suppositions. First, they believe that 20-week-old unborn babies don't really suffer when dismembered; second, that the Supreme Court would find any bill protecting any babies before the 24th week of life to be unconstitutional.
In other words, abortion promoters say that if you're in doubt about whether children in the womb go through agony as their bodies are crushed and torn, err on the side of cruelty. And even if these boys and girls go through unspeakable pain,the abortion lobby believes that the Supreme Court will say that such suffering is simply the collateral damage of "reproductive freedom."
The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, however, says otherwise. It cites scientific evidence holding that there's no doubt that preborn children can feel pain and that they can feel it no later than 20 weeks after conception. The act is also predicated on the fact that Roe v. Wade and subsequent abortion decisions do not address what we now know to be the physical torture that aborted babies suffer.
In recent years, the pain deniers haven't been relying so much on denying the pain of unborn babies. Perhaps that's because when doctors now perform in utero surgeries on unborn children, they anesthetize their tiny patients first. For whatever reason, the subject just isn't raised much anymore.
For instance, when various pro-abortion medical groups wrote to the Senate in 2015 opposing the federal Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, they downplayed the old claim that 20-week-old babies in the womb don't feel pain. A footnote to the letter mentioned "rigorous scientific reviews" that concluded that "fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester."
But these "scientific reviews" were conducted by groups that support abortion. One is reminded of "studies" funded by the tobacco industry that found smoking didn't cause cancer. Even so, the best assertion that these pro-abortion groups could muster is that it's "unlikely" that babies can feel pain before 26 weeks' gestation.
No, abortionists have come to realize that arguing about whether unborn babies feel pain is, for them, a lose/lose proposition. They lose on the merits and they lose public support.
That leaves them with the allegation that the pain-capable law is unconstitutional. Never mind that babies might be suffering excruciating pain while being aborted, they seem to say — the Supreme Court simply won't allow babies to be protected before they're able to survive outside the womb; that is,when they reach viability at 22-to-24 weeks after conception.
But if groups such as Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America are so confident that the Supreme Court would strike down the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, why haven't they brought a federal challenge to the statute in the last seven years?
Perhaps they're not so confident.
The pain-capable bill sets a new legal standard not previously considered by the courts: that states have a right to protect unborn babies that can feel the pain of abortion.
What's more, this new standard, if challenged, could be presented to the Supreme Court at a crucial juncture in abortion jurisprudence. For many years, Justice Anthony Kennedy has been the swing vote in abortion cases, siding with the abortion industry most of the time, but also voting to uphold the federal partial-birth abortion statute. Speculation is rife, though, that Kennedy may be retiring in the next year.
If a new justice in the mold of the late Justice Antonin Scalia is confirmed before the next major abortion case reaches the Supreme Court, a new era in abortion law may be upon us. Abortionists know this. And they know that, if this scenario occurs, their claims against laws to protect human life will not just be logically indefensible, they'll be legally indefensible.
Father Frank Pavone (@frfrankpavone) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. He is the national director of Priests for Life.
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