Press Releases

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) and his Republican colleagues reintroduced the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. The legislation would provide commonsense protections for unborn children at 20 weeks after fertilization, a point at which there is significant scientific evidence that abortion inflicts tremendous pain on the unborn.

“There is no clearer indication that America is in moral crisis than to understand that babies in the womb feel pain as early as 20 weeks old, yet are still allowed to be victims of gruesome abortion procedures that end their lives in agonizing fashion. Science and medical technology increasingly affirm this truth. It is past time for us to protect these innocent, vulnerable lives and spare them from that fate. I’m thankful my colleagues are standing together in support of this legislation that promotes the value and dignity of every human being,” Boozman said

"Medical science increasingly confirms the common experience of parents and the religious and ethical belief of the ages: an unborn baby is just as much a person as each of us-only more innocent, more helpless, and therefore even more deserving of protection. I look forward to working with my colleagues to promote a culture of life and bring this legislation to the floor for a vote," Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) said. 

Background on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

At the age of 20 weeks post-fertilization, scientific evidence tells us an unborn child can feel pain. Anesthesia is administered directly to the unborn child in second-trimester fetal surgery. The unborn child shows physical, chemical, brain and stress responses demonstrating pain at this stage of development.

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is based in science, has overwhelming public support, and is necessary to protect unborn children from painful and untimely deaths.


  • This legislation protects unborn babies after 20 weeks or five months, more than halfway through pregnancy.
  • The United States is one of only seven countries that allows on-demand abortions past 20 weeks. The other six are: North Korea, China, Vietnam, Singapore, Canada, and the Netherlands. Pain-Capable legislation has already passed in Arkansas, Ohio, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Indiana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Idaho, Iowa, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky and Arizona.
  • Advances in modern medicine help babies born at 20, 21 and 22 weeks post-fertilization survive outside the womb. The pain these babies feel outside the womb gives evidence to the pain their unborn counterparts feel while in utero.
  • Ultrasounds show unborn babies at 20 weeks sucking their thumb, yawning, stretching and making faces.

Summary of Provisions

  • The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would make it illegal for any person to perform, or attempt to perform, an abortion without first making a determination of the probable post-fertilization age of the unborn child.
  • If the post-fertilization age of the unborn child is determined to be 20 weeks or greater, an abortion shall not be performed, unless –
    • It is necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman;
    • The pregnancy is a result of rape and the woman has received medical treatment or counseling at least 48 hours prior to the abortion; or if she chooses to do so, has made a report to law enforcement; or
    • The pregnancy is a result of rape or incest against a minor and the abuse is reported to either social services or law enforcement.
  • In the case of the exceptions –
    • the abortion may only proceed in a manner that provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive unless that would pose a greater risk of death or serious bodily injury to the pregnant woman; and
    • the abortion provider must receive informed consent from the pregnant woman, certifying that she has been provided the child’s gestational age, a description of the law, and her rights under the law.
  • A woman on whom an abortion was performed in violation of this Act may bring a civil action against the abortion provider in court to recover damages.
  • Abortion doctors are required to submit annual data to the National Center for Health and Statistics providing statistical information about abortions carried out after 20 weeks post-fertilization age. 
  • The criminal punishment for a violation of this Act is imprisonment of up to five years, fines, or both.
  • The Act makes clear that a woman who receives an illegal abortion in violation of this act may not be prosecuted.