Communications Department

U.S. House to Vote on Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

May 8, 2015 | 2015 Press Releases

WASHINGTON – The Republican leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives announced today that the House will consider, next week, legislation to extend legal protection to pain-capable unborn children nationwide.

The legislation is H.R. 36, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. The foundation of the bill is model legislation developed by National Right to Life in 2010, enacted thus far in 11 states.

Like the state bills, the proposed federal law would generally extend legal protect to unborn humans beginning at 20 weeks fetal age, based on congressional findings that by that point (and even earlier) the unborn child has the capacity to experience great pain during an abortion. The federal bill was originally scheduled for House floor action on January 22, but that consideration was postponed when a small group of House members raised objections to certain language in the exception clauses to the ban, even though they had previously endorsed exactly the same language.

“National Right to Life strongly supports this legislation, which can save thousands of babies from painful deaths each year,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. “We are grateful to Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Majority Whip Steve Scalise, Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and chief bill sponsor Trent Franks, among others, for their steadfast commitment to overcoming the obstacles raised in January, while refining the bill to enhance protections for pain-capable unborn children. This is a strong bill that can save thousands of babies from painful deaths annually. The problems that developed in January were not the fault of these leaders. They deserve great credit for not taking the easy route of gravely weakening the bill in order to facilitate a quick vote. National Right to Life is deeply grateful for their determination to take the time to do the job right and do the diligent work necessary to craft strong legislation focused on the unborn child.”

Some of the extensive evidence that unborn children have the capacity to experience pain, at least by 20 weeks fetal age, is available on the NRLC website at and also here:

Founded in 1968, National Right to Life, the federation of 50 state right-to-life affiliates and more than 3,000 local chapters, is the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots pro-life organization. Recognized as the flagship of the pro-life movement, NRLC works through legislation and education to protect innocent human life from abortion, infanticide, assisted suicide and euthanasia.