Communications Department

U.S. House Votes to Protect Pain-Capable Unborn Children

May 13, 2015 | 2015 Press Releases


WASHINGTON – With the support of a vast majority of House Republicans, and due to the pro-life dedication of the House Republican leadership, the U.S House of Representatives today passed landmark legislation, 242-184, to extend federal protections to unborn children who have reached 20 weeks fetal age, and those who are born alive during late abortions.

The bill was developed from model legislation developed by National Right to Life in 2010, enacted thus far in 11 states.

“This bill would save thousands of unborn babies annually from terribly painful deaths,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. “It is now clear that the overwhelming majority of House Democrats believe that painfully dismembering babies, in the sixth month and later, is just fine – now let them try to explain that to their constituents.”

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act has been the right-to-life movement’s top congressional priority for the 114th Congress. 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.

Douglas Johnson, legislative director for National Right to Life, notes that the bill also contains important new federal protections for babies who are born alive during abortions. Johnson expressed puzzlement that the Associated Press refers a human who is born alive during abortions at 20 weeks fetal age as “the fetus” (as in this story on May 11:–politics.html), but referred to humans at exactly the same stage of development (20 weeks fetal age, 22 weeks of pregnancy) as “premature babies” and “preemies” in a May 7 story about a major new study showing that one-fourth of these babies survive long term when given active medical treatment. (

“Apparently, some journalists think if a baby is born alive during an abortion, he or she remains a ‘fetus’ indefinitely,” Johnson commented.

A one-page summary of the revised federal Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is available here:

The text of the bill, as passed today, is available here:

In a nationwide poll of 1,623 registered voters in November 2014, The Quinnipiac University Poll found that 60% would support a law such as the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act prohibiting abortion after 20 weeks, while only 33% opposed such legislation. Women voters split 59-35% in support of such a law, while independent voters supported it by 56-36%.

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.