NRL News

Rep. Franks introduces District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, Based on Model Drafted and Promoted by NRLC

by | Jan 26, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ)

On Monday, Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ), with strong support from the National Right to Life Committee, introduced the District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 3803). As the Washington Post wrote this morning, “The bill is based on model legislation drafted and promoted by the National Right to Life Committee, which is making the D.C. legislation the centerpiece of its 2012 agenda.”

The measure, which is in force in five states, was dubbed by The Hill newspaper, “[A]n election-year strategy aimed at forcing President Obama and congressional Democrats to take a potentially damaging stand on the issue.”

It is “damaging” only to the extent that opposition to H.R. 3803 would indicate just how far pro-abortionists are willing to extend the “right” to abortion.

In the five states that have passed the law–Nebraska, Kansas, Idaho, Alabama, and Oklahoma–the legislatures have declared that there is substantial scientific evidence that the unborn child is capable of experiencing great pain during abortion procedures by 20 weeks after fertilization, and on the basis of those findings, applied general bans on abortion from that point on (i.e., from about the beginning of the sixth month, in layman’s terminology), except for rare cases in which acute physical disorders endanger the mother.  No serious legal challenge has yet been mounted to any of these five laws.

Already in 2012, similar bills have been introduced in legislatures in Virginia, New Hampshire, and Florida, with additional states expected to join the list.

As explained at a Monday press conference by NRLC Federal Legislative Director Douglas Johnson, H.R. 3803 would ban abortion of pain-capable unborn children within the Federal District-–the district created by the U.S. Constitution for the specific purpose of serving as the seat of the national government.

“Today, in our nation’s capital, an unborn child can be killed at any point prior to birth, for any reason,” Johnson said.  “Under the U.S. Constitution, the sole and exclusive legislative authority to protect unborn children within the Federal District resides with the Congress.  If abortion remains unrestricted in the nation’s capital, during the sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth months, it will be because certain members of Congress, or the President, have obstructed this bill.  If they do that, then they alone, under the Constitution, are fully accountable for that policy.”

At least two abortion providers currently are advertising that they provide abortions in the District past the point that the bill would establish protection – one to 24 weeks after fertilization, and the other during the third trimester, at least to seven and one-half months, and perhaps later.

“Enactment of the D.C. Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act will be a top legislative priority for National Right to Life during 2012,” said Johnson.  “The capital city of the United States should not also be the capital for causing torment to unborn babies in the sixth month and later.”

(For more, see “The Impact of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.”)

Your feedback is very important to improving National Right to Life News Today. Please send your comments to If you like, join those who are following me on Twitter at

Categories: Legislation