The House’s support of the bill, however, is unlikely to translate into approval by the Senate or endorsement by President Obama. The measure will face stronger opposition from senators, and Majority Leader Harry Reid may not bring it to the floor for a vote. The White House has threatened a veto if the bill were to reach Obama’s desk.
Nonetheless, pro-life advocates applauded the House’s passage of what some see as the most important legislative protection for unborn children in years.
“Unborn children aren’t issues to be debated. Issues can’t feel pain and issues can’t die. Unborn children are persons, our neighbors,” said Russell D. Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
“A compassionate society would demand mercy and justice for those in the dawn of life,” Moore said. “The House was right to recognize such compassionate justice, and I pray our senators and our president will as well by passing and signing this legislation.”Trent Franks, AZ-R Baptist influencing Congress
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Trent Franks, R.-Ariz., said the vote “marks the first time in history, in either chamber of the U.S. Congress, that affirmative protection has been extended to unborn children. It is my prayer that today also marks a day when America finally opens her eyes to the humanity of these little victims and the inhumanity of what is being done to them.”
Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), called it “the most significant piece of pro-life legislation to come before the House since the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in 2007.”
The White House, however, issued a policy statement expressing its strong opposition to the bill. Senior advisors would urge Obama to veto the bill if the Senate passes it, according to the statement.
“This bill is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade and shows contempt for women’s health and rights, the role doctors play in their patients’ health care decisions, and the Constitution,” the Obama administration said.
The Supreme Court’s 1973 opinion in Roe, coupled with a companion ruling in Doe v. Bolton, had the effect of legalizing abortion throughout the country for any reason at any point in pregnancy.
Franks’ bill would alter the dynamic regarding abortion, calling on the courts to consider whether the pain experienced by an unborn child should receive some weight in deciding on a woman’s right to an abortion.
Supporters of the legislation frequently cited the trial of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell in advocating for the bill. In mid-May, a jury convicted Gosnell of the first-degree murder of three born-alive babies, as well as 21 counts of violating a state ban on abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy. Gosnell, 72, received three consecutive life sentences without parole for the murder convictions.
Four days after Gosnell’s conviction, Franks announced he would expand the effect of his bill to the entire United States. Prior to that action, Franks’ legislation affected only the District of Columbia, which the U.S. Constitution has granted Congress authority over. Last year, Franks sponsored a similar ban in D.C. but it failed to gain congressional approval. The House voted 220-154 for his measure but it required a two-thirds majority under the rule by which it came to the floor.
The latest House vote on the proposal broke down nearly along party lines. Only six Democrats voted for it and only six Republicans opposed it.
Among Southern Baptist members of the House, 32 voted for the bill, while two voted against it and one was unable to vote. A Southern Baptist, Franks is a member of North Phoenix Baptist Church.
The bill provides exceptions for endangerment to the mother’s life, rape and incest.
A public opinion survey in March by The Polling Company showed 64 percent of American voters would support a law that fits Franks’ proposal with only a threat to the mother’s life as an exception.
Nine states have enacted bans similar to Franks’ bill, according to NRLC.
In the Gosnell case, the three children whom he was convicted of murdering were only some of hundreds at least six months into gestation who were killed outside the womb after induced delivery at a clinic criticized for its unsanitary and unsafe conditions, according to a 281-page report issued by a grand jury in 2011. Gosnell, who destroyed the records in most of those deaths, or a co-worker typically killed the living children by a technique he called “snipping” — jabbing scissors into the back of a baby’s neck and cutting the spinal cord.
About Dr. HL Champion
Dr. H.L. Champion has pastored churches in Texas, Iowa, Missouri, Virginia, and in Tennessee. He has also served as Youth minister and Staff Evangelist in the earlier years of his ministry. Both he and Pat attended Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Pat attended Liberty University and Bro Champion attended Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary there. Brother Champion received his Masters and Doctors degrees from Bethel Bible College and Seminary in Greensboro, N.C. Dr. Champion loves to witness everywhere he goes. One of his favorite experiences other than winning a soul to Christ is to find someone who has never heard of John 3:16. He says, " It is a very great privilege to share the Gospel with some one for the very first time in their life." Here is another quote of his; "To plant the Gospel in the heart of a lost soul for his very first time is to truly experience, "For God so loved the world. . .'" As the owner and Chief Editor of Baptist.org, Brother Champion provides a platform for Baptists and Christians all over the world to present their Gospel message. He and Pat are a part of a Mission Start in Nashville, TN. Contact him at [email protected] - 615-944-0348