Senate Rejects Ban on Aborting Babies Who Can Feel Pain

During his speech to this year’s March for Life, President Trump called on Congress to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. The proposed law does exactly what the name suggests it does – it bans killing unborn babies at the point when science shows they can almost certainly feel the pain of the abortion procedure, around 20 weeks.

Abortions after this point are typically performed via dismemberment – i.e. the abortionist inserts his forceps into the uterus, and then grabs individual appendages and twists them off. After that he crushes the baby’s skull and torso and pulls out the pieces.

Sometimes the abortionist administers a lethal injection to the baby’s heart first, but not always, and the injections don’t always work anyway. As late-term abortionist Leroy Carhart has testified, the baby is often alive during the abortion procedure. Given what we now know about fetal development, there is every reason to believe that the baby being aborted feels the excruciating pain of being literally torn apart, limb from limb.

Senate Rejects Ban on Aborting Babies Who Can Feel Pain

A Horrible Vote

In other words, abortions after 20 weeks are unbelievably gruesome and inhumane. All abortions are, of course. But there is something so self-evidently horrific about abortions in the second trimester and beyond, that even many otherwise “pro-choice” people recoil when presented with the facts. So, you might ask: Who could possibly be against banning such abortions?

A lot of U.S. Senators, apparently. Sadly, last week the U.S. Senate voted 51-46 to reject the proposed law. Tragically, among those who voted against the law were at least 14 U.S. Senators who call themselves Catholic.

In a statement after the vote, President Trump blasted the “disappointing” vote for ignoring scientific facts, and for placing the United States alongside countries like China and North Korea as one of the very few nations that permits elective abortions after 20 weeks. “We must defend those who cannot defend themselves,” Trump said, “I urge the Senate to reconsider its decision and pass legislation that will celebrate, cherish, and protect life.”

There is something truly diabolic about the cognitive dissonance required by a politician – or anyone else! – to maintain such an extreme pro-abortion position while claiming the mantle of “compassion.”

This was put on stark display a few days ago, after a Planned Parenthood affiliate tweeted out a story from the New York Times about a successful surgery performed on an unborn baby at 24 weeks gestation. The Planned Parenthood affiliate obviously believed that the story was a “good news” story. But after numerous people pointed out Planned Parenthood’s abject hypocrisy, they deleted the tweet. How can you support the healing of a baby, when you would gladly rip that same baby apart, if only his or her mother “chooses” to do so?

When faced with choice between supporting life and supporting death, Planned Parenthood enthusiastically chooses death.

Cardinal Ratzinger’s Warning

Those Senators who voted against the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act also chose death.

That any Senator could do so in light of the testimony and evidence presented to the Senate is appalling. But there is something especially appalling when a politician who postures him or herself in public as a “Catholic” does so. Politicians such as these cause enormous scandal, conveying to their fellow Catholics the notion that one can both be a good Catholic and support the killing of the unborn. Unfortunately, most pro-abortion Catholic politicians do so with impunity, putting their own souls, and the souls of so many others, at risk.

It need not be this way. The Church has medicine that She can choose to administer.

In 2004, then-Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI), sent a letter to the U.S. bishops, making abundantly clear that any Catholic politicians who obstinately support legal abortion, even after having been warned by their pastor, “must” be denied Communion. Though treated by many as a “controversial” political statement, it wasn’t. It’s just common sense.

If any Catholic politician openly supported the deliberate, cold-blooded murder of a single innocent human being in any guise other than abortion, there would be a public outcry. People inside the Church and out would be clamoring for the Church to take action. In the case of abortion, we have Catholic politicians supporting the systematic, legalized and even government-funded murder of scores of human beings.

Alas, Cardinal Ratzinger’s letter was initially concealed from the U.S. bishops, and, once leaked, downplayed and largely ignored. It is time to resurrect that document and put it into effect. As blogging priest Fr. Longenecker wrote this week, “What kind of Catholic Church are we if their pastors and bishops do not stand up publicly and rebuke these fourteen politicians?”

For a bishop to lovingly rebuke a member of his flock who has gone astray is not judgmentalism, or playing politics. It is an act of spiritual and physical compassion – both for the politician, who has put his or her eternal soul at stake, and also for the millions of unborn babies being aborted thanks to the callousness of pro-abortion politicians.

Heroic Sacrifice vs. Self-Serving Cynicism

Compare the self-serving cynicism of those Catholic politicians who voted to support late-term abortion – whether because they actually believe it is good, or in order to keep their Senate seats or to please their liberal donors – to the actions of the Holets family, whose heroism was profiled by President Trump in last Tuesday’s State of the Union Address.

Last year Ryan Holets, a police officer, came upon a pregnant homeless woman shooting up heroine. After warning the woman that she was going to harm her baby, the woman broke into tears, and told him that she wanted a safe home for her baby. At that moment, Holets said he knew God was telling him to step up to the plate. He went home to his wife Rebecca, who instantly agreed that they would adopt the woman’s baby. Even though they already had four children, that’s exactly what they did.

Which country would you rather live in? One composed of politicians who cynically condemn fully formed babies to be torn apart in the womb to protect their political careers, or a country full of people like the Holets, unhesitatingly making personal sacrifices to bring life and hope into a dark world?

The answer is obvious. People like the Holets are the backbone of a healthy, functioning democracy; their every-day heroic sacrifice is what keeps democracy from degenerating into selfish mob rule. Let me reiterate the quote from St. John Paul II that I included in last week’s column: “There can be no true democracy without a recognition of every person’s dignity and without respect for his or her rights. Nor can there be true peace unless life is defended and promoted.”

Those Catholic senators who voted against Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act didn’t just vote against life; they voted against democracy, and they voted against peace. The Church, in Her concern for their immortal souls, and for the common good, has every right to call them to task using the most potent medicine at her disposal.

About Fr. Shenan J. Boquet

Fr. Shenan J. Boquet has served as president of Human Life International since 2011. He was ordained in 1993 as a priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana. As HLI’s president, Fr. Boquet collaborates with fellow laborers in the pro-life and family movement in over 80 countries, offering the Sacraments, giving seminars and trainings, appearing on numerous media outlets, and encouraging people of all walks of life to live as faithful advocates for a Culture of Life and Love. He is available for interviews and bookings on behalf of HLI by emailing


  1. Susan on February 5, 2018 at 1:18 PM

    They voted consistent with the absurdity of the bill. Bring them a bill that is man enough to ban all abortions as intellectual coherence demands.

  2. Kathleen Goryl on February 5, 2018 at 1:23 PM

    What if you (or the USCCB or the local Bishop) sent a letter to the 14 Senators who call themselves Catholic, including the reference from the Catechism of the Catholic Church showing our Church’s true teaching on abortion? Lets help catechize our fallen Catholic brothers and sisters. (As I say this, I am a big sinner myself.)
    Educating our Congress can help so they stop legislating and regulating in ways that are against our faith.
    Why would our Congress not want to work collaboratively with the pro-life and pro-life Judeo-Christian community who serve people of all faiths 24/7 (in many cases)?
    I don’t have the data on the size of the pro-life Judeo-Christian healthcare delivery infrastructure (and the secular healthcare industry attempts to hide the facts on how large this delivery infrastructure is). But, it is very large. The Catholic Health Association notes that 1 in 6 Americans gets their healthcare from a Catholic healthcare organization. Adding in other pro-life and pro-life Judeo-Christian organizations, the numbers go up further. (Someone should size this market to get these true facts.)
    Our Congress relies on the private sector pro-life Judeo-Christian healthcare delivery infrastructure to implement its policies. Lets get our public-private sector partnership underway. But, first, we might have to teach them how to stop legislating and regulating against us. That’s a great place to start.

    • Jeanne Decker on February 5, 2018 at 1:34 PM

      Father or someone who knows – print the 51 who voted that way so we can put them in our memory bank.

  3. Chris Caplis on February 5, 2018 at 1:50 PM

    And then I’m always puzzled by people, including my fellow parishoners, who ask what I pray about during Adoration each week-well, here is your answer.

  4. elle on February 5, 2018 at 1:54 PM

    pro-abortion When was the first or last time the Bishops did anything, in public to so called elected pro-abort Catholic politicians?

  5. Dean Bernadette Baldwin on February 5, 2018 at 2:39 PM

    Please print the names of those Senators who voted against the Pain-capable Unborn Babies from each state so we can write to them. Thanks!

  6. Fritz Osell on February 5, 2018 at 4:36 PM

    17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 18 When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for[b] their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. 19 But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turnfrom their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself.
    And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
    No one can serve two masters: Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

  7. Bobbie on February 5, 2018 at 4:39 PM

    Please post names of those senators who reportedly are Catholic and voted against the ban. They need our prayers and letters.

  8. Karen on February 5, 2018 at 9:41 PM

    You can simple Google the Senators that voted against the Ban I wouldn’t want to be any of them!

  9. Pedro. on February 6, 2018 at 12:45 PM

    21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
    Matthew 7:21-23.

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