By Congressman Phil Roe
I want to begin this week’s column by acknowledging the horrific and senseless act of violence that occurred over the weekend in Las Vegas as a gunman shot and killed 59 innocent people and injured more than 500 as they attended the Route 91 Festival Sunday night.
I am heartbroken and praying for the city of Las Vegas, all of the victims and their families. I would also like to again express my gratitude to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, first responders and the local authorities who responded quickly – they are true heroes. My thoughts and prayers will be with everyone affected by this senseless tragedy in the difficult days, weeks and months ahead.
All life is sacred and precious. As an OB/GYN for over 30 years, I have delivered nearly 5,000 babies, and I strongly support the sanctity of life. I am also an active member of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, and I will always be a strong and constant advocate for the right to life. In my practice, I had the tremendous privilege of seeing life at all stages of development. Today, technology like the 3-D ultrasound has given us a window into the womb that shows the unborn child as a living, feeling human being. Due to medical advancements, premature babies are surviving and thriving, even babies born at, or before, the 20-week mark of their mother’s pregnancy. Still, unfortunately, the United States is one of only seven countries worldwide that allows elective abortions after 20 weeks post-conception.
This week, I was proud to support H.R. 36, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which restricts abortions 20 weeks or more after conception. This bill establishes criminal penalties for anyone who performs, or attempts to perform, an abortion after the 20-week mark, and provides exceptions to save the life of the mother, or in the case of rape or incest. I wholeheartedly believe life is a precious miracle that begins at conception, but – no matter your views on abortion – we should all be able to agree that a baby capable of feeling pain should not be murdered without consequence. This bill would address this great injustice and help protect the lives of these unborn children.
According to medical research led by Dr. Kanwaljeet S. Anand at the University of Tennessee, after 20 weeks, an unborn child has the ability to experience pain and can respond to physical stimuli. Abortions dismember babies; babies who have been shown through extensive scientific research can feel pain. According to the Doctors on Fetal Pain, unborn children are given anesthesia in utero for fetal surgeries while children in the same stage of development are legally allowed to be aborted. This is sickening, and we must protect those who can’t protect themselves.
In fact, in 2015, the New England Journal of Medicine released a study that was reported by the New York Times as “one of the largest and most systemic examinations of care for very premature infants.” This study observed that, at 22 weeks, almost a quarter of premature infants who received medical treatment survived. I have seen firsthand that after just 20 weeks of development, babies have fingers, toes and some even begin to hiccup. They have developed nerve centers for their senses, meaning they can hear, taste, smell, see, and – most importantly – feel.
As a doctor, I took an oath to do no harm. This bill will give unborn children the chance at life they deserve and the majority of Americans agree with wanting to protect unborn children after 20 weeks.
It is unconscionable to me that our government allows innocent babies capable of feeling pain to be terminated. It is our responsibility as legislators to stand up and protect the lives of these children who do not yet have a voice. I will always fight for the right to life because it is my belief that we are all unique creations of a God who knows and loves us before we are even conceived, and I’m proud of the House’s leadership on this important issue.
As always, feel free to contact my office if I can be of assistance to you or your family.