Family Research Council

Operation Pro-Life Cities, Mission One: Albuquerque

By Emily Minick Senior Legislative Assistant


Emily Minick is Senior Legislative Assistant at Family Research Council. This article appeared on Townhall.com, November 18, 2013.


The citizens of Albuquerque are taking the old saying, All politics is local to a new level.

On November 19 the residents of Albuquerque will vote on a first of its kind city ordinance, the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Ordinance, which, if passed, would legally protect unborn babies 20 weeks after fertilization from late abortion. If passed, Albuquerque would be the first municipality to enact this kind of pro-life ordinance in the nation, making it truly historic.

The reality is Roe v. Wade did not end the abortion debate in America it intensified the debate, making it the central human rights issue of our time. Abortion in America today is unrestricted through all nine months of pregnancy in some places and often times unregulated, ranking America one of only four countries in the world that permit abortion past the age of viability for any reason.

Incremental legislative strategies that restrict abortion represent the view of a majority of Americans. Gallup finds that 52 percent of Americans believe that abortion should be legal only under certain circumstances. In fact, the proposed city ordinance in Albuquerque which would ban abortions 20 weeks after fertilization is supported by roughly 54 percent of city voters, according to a poll conducted by the Albuquerque Journal.

Supporting late abortion is the extreme position to hold in America today, with 64 percent of Americans opposed to abortion in the second trimester and 80 percent opposed in the last trimester of pregnancy.

Dr. Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted of murder last spring for snipping the necks of babies who were born alive after an abortion attempt, illustrated in shocking detail the horrors of late abortion. The pictures of full term babies dead in boxes in Gosnells clinic should be enough to make Americans reconsider the outer limits of our legal abortion policies today. The great absurdity is the fact that if these babies died during the abortion procedure in the womb, not outside the womb, a majority of what Dr. Gosnell did would have been legal. Gosnell was also convicted of performing illegal late abortions because Pennsylvania law bans abortion after 24 weeks.

There is significant medical and scientific evidence behind banning abortions at 20 weeks after fertilization. The time period of 20 weeks is not an arbitrary moment made up by pro-lifers to suit their purposes; rather, it is the time in fetal development that science tells us that unborn children can experience severe pain. In fact, during this stage of pregnancy nerve endings that register pain spread to all parts of the skin and tissues, but the fibers which help to moderate it do not begin to develop until 32-34 weeks of pregnancy. This evidence leads some scientists to believe that a baby at 20 weeks can feel more pain than a newborn.

Administering anesthesia to unborn children, even pre-viability, during surgery has become commonplace and not just for the peace of mind of the mother. It is done to prevent the child from experiencing pain during an invasive surgical procedure by completely eliminating the stress response associated with pain so that the pre-natal surgery can be performed properly. There would be no reason to administer anesthesia, a procedure not without its own risks, to any patient, born or unborn, adult or toddler, if there was not sufficient evidence that that person could experience pain. Why go through complicated anesthetic procedures if they are not medically or ethically necessary?

Banning abortions after 20 weeks in Albuquerque, the site of one of only a handful of clinics nationwide that performs late abortions, and where people from all over the country travel for late abortions, is an issue about which all city residents, and all Americans, should be able to find common ground.

We saw Texans unite this summer in support of an omnibus pro-life bill, which included a 20-week abortion ban. Thousands of women, teachers, doctors and concerned citizens waited in line for hours to testify before Committees in support of this humane and commonsense approach to abortion. In the end the bill passed, and although two provisions were challenged in court, the 20-week abortion ban was not. Thanks to the effort of thousands, this piece of legislation is now law.

Now is the time to unite against the horrific practice of late abortion.

In fact, all Americans, like the citizens residing in Albuquerque, now have the opportunity to stand against the practice of late abortion in this country. U.S. Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) has just introduced the Pain Capable and Unborn Child Protection Act, which would prevent late abortion nationwide at 20 weeks after fertilization. This is the companion bill to a bill by U.S. Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), H.R. 1797, which passed the House of Representative this past summer with bi-partisan support.

From Washington, D.C. to Albuquerque, concerned citizens are coming together in attempts to protect mothers and their unborn children.

The organic nature of politics at the local level will continue to develop as more Americans begin bringing national issues to the local and state level. The Albuquerque initiative is a new facet to the pro-life movement, and one that might be coming to a city near you very soon.