Abortion is an issue that has long divided our nation on a very personal basis, but because of the work of the pro-life community and medical advances, attitudes are changing.
Cutting-edge medical technology has given us a view into pregnancy that we did not have 40 years ago when the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade. And what we see is a child that deserves protection.
You wouldn't know it from most press accounts, but support is growing for the pro-life position. Much of that change stems from a deeper understanding of fetal development.
We know now that babies in the womb can feel pain, while new technology allows us to detect heartbeats earlier than ever before. Because of extraordinary advances in medicine, babies can also live outside of the womb at earlier stages of pregnancy.
Most Americans now believe that abortion should be as rare as possible and that we should work together to reduce the number of abortions performed in this country. In fact, according to Gallup, a majority of Americans support limiting abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy — entering the sixth month under most metrics.
Polls also show that an overwhelming majority of Americans oppose the abhorrent practice of late-term abortion. As a nation, we are coming to believe that a child who can survive outside the womb should be given the opportunity to do so.
Recently I joined a number of senators as an original co-sponsor of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, introduced in the Senate on Nov. 7. Our legislation would prohibit, with limited exceptions, abortions that take place 20 weeks after fertilization. This bill is a crucial opportunity to take concrete action toward reducing abortions in our country, and it is in keeping with the views of most Americans.
This legislation is rooted in a better understanding of pregnancy. There is substantial scientific evidence suggesting that an unborn child age 20 weeks or greater is capable of experiencing pain. These babies also are capable of surviving outside of the womb. I have toured the wonderful children's hospitals throughout the state of Ohio and seen firsthand babies who were born extremely premature, but will grow to be healthy children because of the amazing medical treatments now available. Thanks to our advances in neonatal care, the miracle of life has been extended to children who may not have been able to survive even a few years ago.
We also must do a better job of ensuring every child has a loving home. November is National Adoption Month, with celebrations taking place in Ohio and around our country. From international adoption to foster care placement, many families across this country continue to open their hearts and homes to children in need, raising them as their own. As Americans who strive to respect and protect life, now is a good time to recommit ourselves to supporting adoption programs. I have been, and will continue to be, a vocal advocate of adoption and foster care.
The unborn are the most vulnerable members of our society, and I am committed to ongoing efforts to protect innocent life. As public opinion continues to change on this issue, I hope that one day, through education, prevention, and encouraging adoption, every pregnancy can be viewed as a blessing and every new life regarded as sacred and worthy of all possible protections.
Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman is the junior senator from Ohio.
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