Taking back the narrative on pain

 Jamie Dangers is Legislative Assistant at Family Research Council. This article appeared in The Hill on May 8, 2015.

In January, as hundreds of thousands of people streamed into our nation’s capital for the annual March for Life, a simple pro-life measure in Congress was caught in a quagmire. On the anniversary of the tragic Roe v. Wade ruling, the House of Representatives was supposed to vote – and pass – the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. It had passed with significant support in the last Congress, and was expected to do so again this year, with a much higher chance of actually making its way through the Senate this time around. But somewhere, something went wrong, and what had been a united front splintered into chaos and finger-pointing and misinformation.

So the House punted on it.

And the narratives – some accurate, some inaccurate – were painful. They hurt the conservative movement, they hurt the image of a new pro-life Congress, they hurt individuals, and they hurt pro-life groups.

But mostly, they hurt thousands of aborted unborn babies, who by 20 weeks old can feel every agonizing bit of their gruesome death.

The narratives hurt because certain Congress members shifted the focus from the babies to the exceptions, delaying any sort of protection for these babies. The who, what, why and how of rape reporting requirements to law enforcement became the focal point, the point of contention. Yes, we need to show compassion to mothers who are victims. Yes, the bill language needs to be strong and we need to guard against loopholes to ensure that reprehensible abortionists cannot dishonestly cite excepted cases in order to perform late-term abortions.

But let’s not forget what the bill is about.

Next week will be the two-year anniversary of the conviction of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, the infamous abortion doctor who is now serving several life sentences for his crimes against babies. The horror of what was found in his clinic is beyond comprehension, beyond words. That someone can subject women to such dangerous “treatment” and babies to such torturous deaths is sickening.

But what we need to realize is that while Gosnell is safe behind bars, never again to hurt another innocent baby or mother, there are so many more abortion “doctors” who freely practice in sanitized, regulated clinics, still injuring and killing the unborn. Abortionists kill about 13,000 babies every single year through late term abortions, when the babies can feel the excruciating pain.

It’s time to take back the true narrative. Let’s talk again about how babies are victims, desperately in need of advocates. Let’s remember that the compassionate thing to do is to protect the defenseless unborn. Let’s understand that unborn babies around 20 weeks can feel pain even more acutely than we can, because their pain inhibitors haven’t developed yet. Let’s not lose sight of this.

Unborn babies can feel during their late term abortions. The dilation and extraction method used most commonly at that point in pregnancy literally tears them apart, and they can feel it.

Does that move you? Does that sicken you? It should.

Maybe there are nuances we can’t agree on regarding life. But we should all agree that the right thing, the compassionate thing, the rational thing, the human thing, is to make it illegal for any abortionist to subject unborn babies to such cruelty.

That’s what the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is all about.

There is good news! This morning, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced a vote on this bill next week. Pro-life members and leadership have worked hard to strengthen the Pain bill. It is time for the House to pass this bill to protect thousands of pain-capable babies.