‘Consensus Is Building’: Pro-Life Panel Pushes for Nationwide 15-Week Protections
Frustration amongst the pro-life community continues to simmer following Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump’s controversial comments on Sunday that questioned the value of federal protections for the unborn. But during Family Research Council’s Pray Vote Stand Summit over the weekend, a panel of pro-life experts made it clear that a national consensus is growing to protect babies at a bare minimum of 15 weeks.
Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) opened the panel by sharing how federal protections for the unborn has been a goal of the pro-life movement since the beginning.
“My wife and I have been in the pro-life movement since 1972, before Roe v. Wade,” he noted. “[A]ll of us in the pro-life movement have always aspired to someday have a federal protection for unborn children. Yes, have them at the state level as well. But life needs to be protected constitutionally as well as by statute. And the Dobbs decision could not have been clearer. Both Alito and Kavanaugh’s concurring opinion that all lawmakers — not just state lawmakers — have a critical role to play with regards to abortion. We write laws, we can regulate it, we can prescribe it, prohibit it. But we need to do it and we need to step up.”
Smith continued, “I see some folks [on] Capitol Hill saying, ‘Oh, let’s leave it to the states.’ Well, if you leave it to the states, you leave it to places like New Jersey where Governor Murphy [D] has signed into law a bill that allows abortion right up until the moment of birth. New York did the same, Colorado, California, a number of states have. So it’s outrageous to think we’re just going to look the other way while children are being dismembered, chemically poisoned in a myriad of ways. And the newest thing, the abortion pill … kills the child by starvation. … [W]e need to stop it on a federal level.”
Smith went on to point out that a nationwide consensus is building that supports protecting unborn babies at 15 weeks, the point at which an unborn child can feel pain. Polls show a strong majority of up to 70% of Americans support a 15-week national limit.
“There is consensus being built,” he pointed out. “The fact that a child can feel excruciating pain as they’re being dismembered, especially during the early moments of that abortion. It’s outrageous. It underscores the violence that’s happening. And a 15-week ban … in states like New Jersey … would save at least 55,000 children from the horror of that later term abortion.”
In response to a common argument among some Republican strategists that abortion is a “losing issue” in the wake of the 2022 midterms, Mary Szoch, director of FRC’s Center for Human Dignity, argued that talking about the issue in the right way and embracing it is key for electoral success.
“If we look at states like Texas and Florida, we can see that in those states, strong pro-life legislation was enacted [because] people spoke clearly about what we want to do with pro-life legislation,” she argued. “Pro-life legislation isn’t any sort of restriction. It’s a protection, a protection for a person, a person who I got to meet six weeks ago when I gave birth to my little one. … Pro-life legislation is a winning issue because Americans love babies. All you have to do is walk down the street with my stroller and you can see that everyone in America is inherently pro-life. You can’t see a baby and not smile.”
Despite this, Democrats on Capitol Hill do not seem to care about what the majority of Americans want, Congressman Smith observed.
“We talk about some members on the Republican side saying, ‘We just want to do state laws.’ None of the Democrats have that inhibition or that vision. …Twice in the last Congress when they had control of the House, [they passed] a bill that would allow abortion until birth in every single state and would eviscerate every modest protection that we’ve gotten over the years, like informed consent, women’s right to know laws … [and] conscience protections laws.”
“That’s what Vice President Harris is talking about when she says, ‘We want to codify Roe,’” panel moderator Tony Perkins noted.
“That’s what she means,” Smith agreed.
On the state level, Ohio State Rep. Jena Powell (R) further warned that what is happening in her state with outside pro-abortion interest groups attempting to confuse the electorate on abortion issues could happen in other states as well.
“[Y]ou need to see what the constitutional threshold is in your state,” she urged. “… It’s very clear what the Left is doing. It’s very clear what the abortion movement is doing. They’re coming in, they’re circumventing the legislature, and they’re going straight to the Constitution and trying to change it and lie to Americans in that manner. So go home [and] see what’s going on with your Constitution in your state.”
Szoch went on to note that the pro-life movement is now in the “first quarter” after the Dobbs decision, similar to another paramount moment in American history.
“When we look at the only other time in history in America where human beings were not classified as persons, when we look at what happened with slavery, it was 100 years before we had the Civil Rights movement,” she pointed out. “We need to make sure that it’s not 100 years before the unborn child is granted full rights as a person. And that begins with our conversations with our neighbors.”
Szoch further detailed how believers should go about talking to their fellow Americans about the abortion issue in a politically polarized society.
“I think we need to lead with love and listening,” she emphasized. “First, listen to what your neighbors are saying and then love them in that moment. There’s a lot of hurt and a lot of pain behind the pro-abortion position. It’s a lot of women who have had abortions, men who have paid for them, men who have supported them, friends who have said, ‘Oh, it would be okay.’ And a lot of these people have later realized, ‘Oh, my gosh, that was a baby.’ And that pain is what is driving the violence that we see in the pro-abortion movement.”
“We need to meet that with love and compassion, and we need to meet that with, ‘Hey, we have other solutions for you,’” Szoch concluded. “There’s a better way because that is a human being and that human being deserves respect, deserves love, and a chance at life.”
Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.