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Tulsi GabbardChip Somodevilla / Getty Images

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 14, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Former presidential candidate and Democrat Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii proposed a bill to the U.S. House of Representatives that would ban most late-term abortions. 

At the urging of pro-life groups, Republicans in both chambers of Congress have long pushed for such legislation, which has previously been introduced as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. The United States is one of only seven countries that allows late-term abortion until birth. 

Gabbard’s bill, the “Late Term Abortion Ban Act,” proposes to “protect pain-capable unborn children,” which could change the current legislation to introduce a hard limit of 20 weeks. The text of the bill, which LifeSiteNews has seen but is not yet publicly available, is almost identical to previous versions.

Previous versions of the bill allow babies conceived in rape and incest to be aborted. Gabbard’s includes those exceptions and one for when “abortion is necessary [sic] to prevent the loss of life or severe injury (the substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, not including psychological or emotional conditions) of a pregnant woman endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself, but not including psychological or emotional conditions.”

According to the Charlotte Lozier Institute, there are more than 11,000 late-term abortions in the United States every year:

The most recent data from both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Guttmacher Institute on total abortions and late-term abortions suggest that approximately 1.3 percent of abortions are carried out at 21 weeks of gestation and above. The true percentage may be even higher, as the CDC estimate does not include multiple states where late-term abortions take place. The most recent national abortion total from the Guttmacher Institute and its direct surveys of abortion facilities found that there were an estimated 862,320 abortions in the United States in 2017. Even using the low estimate of 1.3 percent, that translates into more than 11,200 late-term abortions in that year. Late-term abortions constitute as much as 3 percent of all abortions in Colorado [where one of the country’s most notorious late-term abortion centers is located].

There is a heated debate around when babies can begin to feel pain in the womb, but recent studies demonstrate that babies can feel pain in the womb as early as 12 or 13 weeks into a pregnancy. 

At 20 weeks, an unborn baby is the size of a small cantaloupe. Mothers can feel their babies kicking in utero. 

Gabbard’s bill notes:

For the purposes of surgery on unborn children, fetal anesthesia is routinely administered and is associated with a decrease in stress hormones compared to their level when painful stimuli are applied without such anesthesia. In the United States, surgery of this type is being performed by 20 weeks after fertilization and earlier in specialized units affiliated with children's hospitals.

The bill also notes that “Pain receptors (nociceptors) are present throughout the unborn child's entire body and nerves link these receptors to the brain's thalamus and subcortical plate by no later than 20 weeks after fertilization,” and offers more detailed information on how one can know unborn children feel pain as they are ripped apart in their mother’s wombs.

The announcement of this bill comes just days after Gabbard bucked her party’s pro-abortion line by introducing a “born-alive” bill, which would protect babies born alive during the process of an abortion, and also a bill preventing men and women from competing in sports teams of the opposite sex.

Gabbard, whose foreign policy views lean libertarian and who also said during her presidential run she supported limiting late-term abortion, voted against the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act in 2017. She also previously supported measures forcing transgender bathrooms on students.

Gabbard’s term ends in January 2021. She is not seeking re-election.

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