After the brutal details of the Kermit Gosnell trial finally became known to the American public, pro-life leaders across the country introduced bans on late-term abortions. They argue that there is no moral difference between killing an unborn child outside of the womb at 23 weeks and killing one inside of the womb at the same stage in a pregnancy. Further, they point to scientific evidence that finds that unborn children can begin feeling pain and reacting to changes in environment at 20 weeks. They further argue that women are more at-risk to face health challenges – even death – when they undergo a late-term abortion.
The lobbyists at Planned Parenthood and The National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) have responded with the same uniform response with which they always respond to pro-life legislation. They have called the measures “extreme”, “radical”, and an attack on women’s health. For the most part, the mainstream media has allowed the pro-choice lobby to frame this debate on those terms, despite the actual facts that surround this issue from a moral, political, and scientific standpoint. I think it’s important that we ask the question: which side is more extreme, really?
We can start by looking at the track record of the pro-choice lobby. First, they lobbied to have the Democratic Party platform on abortion changed from “safe, legal, and rare”, to essentially a platform that allows for abortion on-demand and without exception. Then, even while claiming that there was a “war on women” last fall, Planned Parenthood and NARAL fought vehemently to defeat a ban on sex-selection abortion in the U.S. House of Representatives, saying that the right to an abortion extended to aborting a baby girl simply because of her sex. They have opposed any and all attempts to clean up the abortion industry and to make safer conditions in clinics, and they have somehow claimed that over-regulation was the reason that Kermit Gosnell was able to terrorize women and murder born-alive babies without oversight for over a decade. Even common sense legislation receives the “extreme” label from Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and their allies in Congress.
The most recent legislation that has been pushed by pro-life politicians is a ban on abortion after 20 weeks. The 20-week mark was chosen because some scientists and doctors believe that the unborn child can begin feeling pain at that point. Opponents to this legislation are correct in stating that there is not a scientific consensus that an unborn child can feel pain at 20 weeks (although there is a fair amount of evidence on the pro-life side). However, it is undisputed that the physical systems through which human beings feel pain begin to develop at this point. Doctors who oppose the fetal pain legislation say that the system is merely beginning to work, but that they cannot definitively state that an unborn child can indeed feel pain.
Given that neither side can definitively say at which point an unborn child can feel pain, shouldn’t we our public policy follow the most conservative estimate that is backed by scientific evidence? Wouldn’t we rather save some unborn children that do not yet feel pain rather than accidentally harm the ones who do?
As Texas Senator Ted Cruz noted in his written testimony to the Texas legislature, this issue has already been settled in many parts of the world. Brazil bans abortions at 10 weeks. Germany bans them at 12 weeks. So does Spain. And in France, one of the most liberal and secular states on the planet, abortions are banned at 14 weeks. Our country’s acceptance of late-term abortion puts us in the company of only four other nations: Canada, North Korea, and, of course, China.
Despite this fact, pro-choice leaders claim that they are the voice for all women. As I write this, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards is leading a giant orange bus through the heart of Texas with “STANDING WITH TEXAS WOMEN” planted on its side. And on CNN’s “New Day” this week, NARAL President Ilyse Hogue claimed that Susan B. Anthony List President (and my former boss) Marjorie Dannenfelser is out of touch with women in her support of 20-week bans.
The fact of the matter is that most Americans – and most women – stand with Marjorie on this issue. Even Kermit Gosnell’s lawyer has stated that abortion limits make far more sense at 15 or 16 weeks instead of the 26 weeks required by Roe v. Wade. The latest poll from the Huffington Post and YouGov finds that 59% of Americans support a ban on abortion after 20 weeks. A recent National Journal poll found that more women support a ban than oppose it (48% to 44%). This same poll found 50% support among women. And a University of Texas poll found that almost two-thirds (62%) of Texans support the ban.
These numbers are even more staggering when we consider the strikingly low numbers of people who support the views that are pushed by Planned Parenthood and NARAL. According to a 2013 Gallup poll, only 14% of Americans think third-trimester abortions should be legal. The aforementioned Huffington Post/YouGov poll found that only 30% of people oppose a 20-week ban. And a 2011 Gallup Poll found that even pro-choice voters support many so-called “pro-life” pieces of legislation.
Of the pro-choice voters polled, 86% support informed consent laws, 79% believe in a ban on third-trimester abortions, 60% believe in parental consent laws. Even a majority (52%) of pro-choice Americans believe in a second-trimester ban.
No matter what you think of Planned Parenthood’s clinical operation, Planned Parenthood Action and Cecile Richards do not represent the majority of women. They don’t even represent the pro-choice movement. The fact is, a majority of Americans – even women – support the Texas legislation. There are no phrases catchy enough, no pink shoes bright enough, no bus big enough, and no mob loud enough to change this fact. NARAL and Planned Parenthood Action are out of touch with their movement, their membership, and reality itself.
If pro-choice Americans want truly want to root [IS THIS PROPER?] out extremism, they should start within their own ranks. And they should start at the top.