DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - As the U.S. Congress is considering a restriction on late-term abortion, pro-life leaders are divided on whether or not to embrace the proposed policy.
The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (PCUCPA) would ban abortion after 20 weeks, with exceptions for rape, incest and when the mother's life is at risk. It passed the House of Representatives on October 3 and still needs to be voted on in the Senate.
While some pro-life leaders see this as a necessary, incremental step in fighting the scourge of abortion, others argue that pro-lifers should protest the bill and push for something stronger.
A press release on Tuesday from Personhood Alliance, an American pro-life organization, slammed insufficiencies in the PCUCPA, arguing that pro-lifers should oppose the bill.
The press release claims that the bill has two flaws. First, it fails to declare that there is no such thing as a right to abortion. Second, it makes exceptions for rape, incest and health reasons, thus undermining arguments for the universal right to life.
Personhood Alliance's President Daniel Becker encourages resistance to the bill. He writes in the press release that "by opposing this flawed legislation, you're upholding the values that we [pro-lifers] all fight for every day."
Gualberto Garcia Jones, national policy director at Personhood Alliance, agrees that "much of the pro-life movement has, once again, lowered its standards in order to have a seat at the table with legislators that are pro-life in name only."
The press release also features the comments of Christopher Kurka, executive director of Alaska Right to Life. He observes, "A simple clause stating that 'no right to abortion shall be established in this law' is completely missing."
Those who endorse the PCUCPA, however, feel that it is a step in the right direction and could help awaken the conscience of the American people. For instance, Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) — one of the bill's chief promoters in Congress — said in an interview with Media Research Center on September 26, "I hope this bill will demonstrate the humanity of the unborn and the inhumanity of what's being done to them."
Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, is hopeful, as well about the impact that PCUCPA might have on future legal and legislative policies. In a Washington Examiner op-ed from September 27, Fr. Pavone called the restriction on late-term abortion a "new standard," which "if challenged [by the abortion lobby in court] could be presented to the Supreme Court at a crucial juncture in abortion jurisprudence."
Father Pavone explained that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy may be resigning soon, and a pro-life replacement would establish a pro-life majority in the nation's highest courtroom. He argues:
If a new justice in the mold of the late Justice Antonin Scalia is confirmed before the next major abortion case reaches the Supreme Court, a new era in abortion law may be upon us. Abortionists know this. And they know that, if this scenario occurs, their claims against laws to protect human life will not just be logically indefensible, they'll be legally indefensible.
The Personhood Alliance press release also features comments from Molly Smith of Cleveland Right to Life. It quotes Smith as saying, "Whenever you have a piece of legislation that says 'if you do this and this and this, then you can go ahead and abort the child' it must be recognized for what it is — a bill that further enshrines abortion into law."
Rebecca Kiessling is the president of Save the 1, and she has stated publicly that she was conceived in her mother's womb as a result of a rape. Kiessling told Personhood Alliance, "My people's group feels the pain of discrimination every time so-called pro-life laws exclude us from protection. What's more, women who experience the horrific violation of rape deserve better than a law that promotes a second act of violence as a solution."
In an extensive critique of the PCUCPA on the Personhood Alliance website, Becker writes, "When leaders promote or accept deadly exceptions for rape, incest or fetal anomaly, they contradict the movement's foundational premise that every innocent human being is precious and deserving of protection."
Supporters of the bill argue that, while not staunchly pro-life, it at least establishes minimal, common-sense restrictions that are found in most countries except the United States. Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List and head of the 2016 Trump campaign's pro-life coalition, told LifeNews on September 25, "We are one of only seven nations in the world that allow children in the womb to be killed for any reason up until the moment of birth, putting us in the company of China and North Korea."
A petition in support of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act can be accessed here.