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Bishops Urge Congress to Pass Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

Would Ban Abortions at 20 Weeks After Fertilization

Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), urged support for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act when it comes before the U.S. House of Representatives.

The bill, H.R. 36, introduced by Representatives Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), proposes a ban on abortions at 20 weeks after fertilization. 

In a Jan. 20 letter to the House, Cardinal O’Malley wrote that there are many lessons learned from Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s imprisonment in 2013 for murder and other crimes committed while providing abortions.

“This tragic circumstance led many Americans to realize that our permissive laws and attitudes have allowed the abortion industry to undertake these procedures. All decent and humane people are repulsed by the callous and barbarous treatment of women and children in Gosnell’s clinic, and in other clinics that abort children after 20 weeks,” Cardinal O’Malley wrote.  

“The Supreme Court’s past insistence that unborn children must be ‘viable’ to deserve even nominal protection is not meaningful or workable,” Cardinal O’Malley added. Whether “viable” by the Court’s definition or not, he said, eyewitnesses confirmed that “the children were born alive and crying or screaming in pain, until their lives were intentionally and deliberately ended.”

“These procedures after the middle point of pregnancy also pose serious dangers to women – as evidenced by Dr. Gosnell’s own manslaughter conviction for one woman’s death, and news about the death or serious complications of other women undergoing such procedures,” he said.

“For all these reasons, the proposed ban on abortions at 20 weeks after fertilization is a place to begin uniting Americans who see themselves as ‘pro-life’ and as ‘pro-choice,’” Cardinal O’Malley added. “On behalf of our country and the children whose lives are at stake, I urge you to support the common-sense reform offered by H.R. 36 and to oppose all weakening amendments.” 

The full text of Cardinal O’Malley’s letter is available at www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/abortion/upload/Letter-to-House-of-Representatives-HR-36-Pain-Capable-Unborn-Child-Protection-Act-2015.pdf.

Hundreds of thousands of marchers are in Washington, D.C., today, the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, in protest of that Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States in 1973.

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