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WASHINGTON, D.C., February 12, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — While lauding President Trump’s “beautiful” and “fantastic” State of the Union (SOTU) remarks, pro-life leaders fighting for heartbeat and personhood laws say the president must back these measures if he’s serious about ending abortion in America.
In last Tuesday’s SOTU, Trump blasted a recent New York law that he noted “would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth,” and Virginia’s governor for stating “he would execute a baby after birth.”
“To defend the dignity of every person, I am asking Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in the mother's womb,” Trump said.
“Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life. And let us reaffirm a fundamental truth: all children – born and unborn – are made in the holy image of God,” he added.
Pro-life leaders who are working to pass laws recognizing the personhood of pre-born children and laws banning abortion when a baby’s heartbeat can be detected praised his words but said Trump’s legislative objective falls far short of what’s needed.
“I thought the president did fantastic in his State of the Union,” Janet Porter of Faith2Action told LifeSiteNews.
But “I would have liked to see him get behind” the Heartbeat Protection Act, which had “more cosponsors than any other pro-life bill,” she added.
Porter is the architect of the legislation, which makes it illegal for doctors to commit abortions on unborn children with measurable heartbeats, or as she puts it: “If a heartbeat is detected, the baby’s protected.”
An unborn baby’s heart begins to beat 21 days after conception and can usually be detected at six week’s gestation.
The bill was introduced in Congress in January 2017 with 169 cosponsors, but because of what one Congressman calls pro-life “turf battles,” it was referred to committee a month later where it languished, LifeSiteNews reported in March 2018.
The bill “is reintroduced in Congress, it’s been introduced in 21 states, and will soon be introduced in the United States Senate,” Porter told LifeSiteNews.
“We need to do more than just march and be upset about New York. We need to end abortion, and a first step to do that is to pass the Heartbeat Bill,” she added.
‘Personhood’ not contingent on feeling pain
Personhood Alliance is likewise intent on ending all abortion, says president Gualberto Garcia Jones.
Trump’s “beautiful” statement that “all children – born and unborn – are made in the holy image of God,” accords with his group’s stated mission, he told LifeSiteNews.
“It’s a foundational statement that I think all pro-lifers agree with, and it’s actually in our personhood worldview,” Garcia Jones said.
“It’s why we do what we do, so we were thrilled with that.”
The national group and its affiliates advocate for legal recognition and protection of human life at all stages, and so do not endorse incremental legislation such as bills banning most abortions on pain-capable babies at 20 weeks of pregnancy, or those that state a specific class of human being can be exempted from legal protection.
But Garcia Jones was careful to emphasize that Personhood Alliance “doesn’t want to have any infighting amongst pro-life groups” and that even though “a pain-capable bill is not one we are pushing, we’re glad that other groups are pushing it, if they can get it good for them.”
Trump asking Congress to pass a pain-capable bill is “politically a smart move,” because “it shows how radical pro-abortion groups are.” They and pro-abortion Democrats “will fight against a pain-capable bill and that paints them in really negative light vis-a-vis undecided people,” Garcia Jones told LifeSiteNews.
“At the same time, I think the insistence on pain-capable is not really a good thing for the pro-life movement, because it sets the bar so low,” he said.
Trump’s push for a pain-capable bill “undercut” his “incredible” and “fabulous” pro-life statement, said Tim Overlin, executive director of Personhood Iowa, an affiliate and founding member of Personhood Alliance.
If the president “believes what he said,” that “unborn babies and babies that are born are created in the image of God, then he would do everything that he could immediately to stop all for them from being led away to slaughter,” Overlin told LifeSiteNews.
“I wish he would think on this issue deeper than he does, and say that even if they don’t feel pain they’re still persons,” said Overlin.
“Feeling pain doesn’t make us people, so that was my frustration.”
All unborn children must be protected by law
Molly Smith, president of Cleveland Right to Life, and vice president of Right to Life Action Coalition of Ohio, likewise praised Trump’s avowal that born and unborn children are all made in God’s image.
This “suggests that the President recognizes the personhood of the unborn child from the moment of conception,” she told LifeSiteNews in an email.
But while Trump’s call for the pain-capable legislation is “encouraging,” Smith wrote, “All children in the womb must be protected by law – we don’t get to choose which ones are and which ones aren’t.”
What Trump said “seems to confirm that he gets that.”
“We ask him now to confirm this statement by outlawing all abortion regardless of size, level of development, how a child was conceived or whether the child has a fetal anomaly or can feel pain,” wrote Smith.
Walter Hoye, Berkeley Baptist pastor and founder of Issues4Life, had only praise for Trump’s SOTU address, including his implicit affirmation of the unborn child’s personhood.
“As a black American, ‘personhood’ speaks right to me,” said Hoye, whose campaigns on the issue in California are documented on iamaperson.us.
In his view, “personhood is probably only the political strategy that black American leaders can embrace, because black American leaders understand what’s going on when the discussion starts to be around personhood,” Hoye told LifeSiteNews.
“We’ve been there already,” he said. “So personhood is huge, and I would definitely encourage the President to embrace it.”