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Congressman Diane Black

Representing the 6th District of Tennessee


House Votes to Protect Unborn Babies at 20 Weeks

October 3, 2017
Press Release

To watch Rep. Black’s remarks on the House floor, click HERE or on the image above

Washington, D.C. –  Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 36) by a vote of 237-189, which would end late-term abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, when scientists have determined that unborn babies are able to feel pain inside the womb. Congressman Diane Black (R-TN-06), a member of the Pro-Life Caucus, spoke on the House floor in support of H.R. 36.

Remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:

M. Speaker, it is difficult to imagine what could be more important than establishing who is protected under the law and who is not – who is given a chance at life, and who is denied it.

As technology continues to evolve, the more we can celebrate the ability we have to save the life of a baby at just 20 weeks after conception – that is truly remarkable.

When I became a nurse over 40 years ago, I vowed to “devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care,” whether they were born or unborn. I am still committed to that today.

40 years later, science tells us that after 20 weeks of pregnancy, unborn babies are able to feel pain inside the womb.

The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act protects those who cannot protect themselves when handed a death sentence.

M. Speaker, there are currently seven countries in the world that allow elective, late-term abortions – including North Korea and China. Why is the United States on a list with countries categorized as human rights abusers? Our nation can do far better.

I have seen how special care is given to reduce the pain of precious premature babies born at 20 weeks in the NICU. Unborn children in the womb at this stage should be protected too.

In a late-term abortion procedure, babies are sometimes torn apart limb from limb or their spinal cords are cut – they can FEEL this at 20 weeks.

These are viable, living, human beings that offer unbridled potential to the world. It is incomprehensible that our laws today say otherwise.

We must pass the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to give these unborn children a chance to see the light of day.

M. Speaker, I yield the remainder of my time.

The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 36), or “Micah’s Law,” protects unborn children from abortion after 20 weeks (post-fertilization) of pregnancy. Increasing medical evidence shows that by this time, at the latest, unborn children possess the ability to feel pain and respond to painful stimuli. The bill is co-sponsored by 170 House Members, and is supported by over 50 coalitions, including Susan B. Anthony List, National Right to Life, Family Research Council, March for Life, Faith & Freedom Coalition, Students for Life of America, the ERLC and Concerned Women for America. To view the coalition letter thanking Leader McCarthy for scheduling H.R. 36 for a vote, click here.

The bill makes exceptions for cases of rape against an adult woman as long as she has received medical treatment or counseling outside of the abortion industry. Additionally, there are exceptions made for cases of the rape or incest of a minor as long as the abuse has been reported to law enforcement or social services to prevent continuing abuse of the child. The criminal penalties for abortionists violating the law include a fine and/or up to five years imprisonment, but the woman on whom the abortion is performed is protected from prosecution. There must also be a second physician present to provide care and transport to a hospital for unborn children who survive an abortion.

To view President Trump’s Statement of Administration on H.R. 36, click here.


Congressman Diane Black represents Tennessee’s 6th Congressional District. A nurse for more than 40 years, she serves as Chairman of the House Budget Committee and a member of the Ways and Means Committee.