Communications Department

National Right to Life to Journalists: Check Your Facts in Unborn Pain Debate

Jun 11, 2015 | 2015 Press Releases

WASHINGTON – At a press conference this morning at which Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) announced the introduction of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act in the U.S. Senate, National Right to Life President Carol Tobias called on journalists, when writing about the bill and the unborn children at 20 weeks fetal age or older who it would protect, to adopt a more skeptical approach to fact claims made by pro-abortion advocacy organizations, including ACOG and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

“As in the early days of the debate over partial-birth abortion in 1995-1996, many journalists are currently adopting and transmitting as fact, claims that are clearly erroneous and often indefensible, which they receive from advocacy groups such as ACOG and Planned Parenthood,” said Tobias. “These include false claims that no babies or very few babies survive when born at 20 weeks fetal age, that there is no good evidence that babies can experience pain at 20 weeks fetal age, and that most abortions performed after 20 weeks involve acute medical problems of mother or child. Some of these journalists eventually may find themselves trying to explain why they were so gullible, just like their journalistic predecessors, who adopted the abortion-advocacy party line on partial-birth abortion, until it blew up in their faces.”

On May 13, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, 242-184. The bill would extend federal protections to unborn children who have reached 20 weeks fetal age (22 weeks of pregnancy), with certain exceptions, and to babies 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.

The full text of Carol Tobias’ statement is available here:

On June 1, 2015, National Right to Life sent a letter to senators encouraging them to sign on as co-sponsors of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. That letter is posted here:

On June 5, 2015, National Right to Life News Today published a piece by National Right to Life Legislative Director Douglas Johnson calling The New York Times to task for a recent correction relating to an article about U.S. House passage of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. That article is posted 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.