Texas state senator Wendy Davis spoke at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Monday afternoon about her 13-hour filibuster of a bill limiting late-term abortion, her life story, and her future in politics.
Davis has become a champion for pro-choice activists, but during her recent whirlwind national media tour, she never commented on late-term abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted of murder in May for killing infants moments after they were born.
Following her Press Club speech on Monday, THE WEEKLY STANDARD asked Davis to explain the difference between the late-term abortions that the Texas state senator wants to keep legal and the illegal Gosnell killings.
Davis didn’t answer the question. “I don’t know what happened in the Gosnell case,” she told me.
THE WEEKLY STANDARD: The supporters of these bans, they argue that there really isn’t much of a difference between what happened in that Philadelphia case with abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell [killing born-alive infants] 23 weeks into pregnancy and legal late-term abortions at 23 weeks. What is the difference between those two, between legal abortion at 23 weeks and what Gosnell did? Do you see a distinction between those two [acts]?
SEN. WENDY DAVIS: I don’t know what happened in the Gosnell case. But I do know that it happened in an ambulatory surgical center. And in Texas changing our clinics to that standard obviously isn’t going to make a difference. The state of the law obviously has to assure that doctors are providing safe procedures for women and that proper oversight by the health and human services department is being given. It sounds as though there was a huge gap in that oversight, and no one can defend that. But that’s not the landscape of what’s happening in Texas.
In June, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi was similarly unable to explain the difference between the Gosnell murders and late-term abortions. Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards ducked the question in July.
Polls have consistently shown that solid majorities of Americans, including women, support banning most abortions that occur later than 20 weeks after conception.
Asked what she thinks of polls showing women support limiting abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, Davis told me that people “don’t really understand” the issue.
I actually think that it’s pro-abortion people like Nancy Pelosi and Wendy Davis, and their media sycophants, who don’t understand abortion.
Here is the ignorance again, this time on Jezebel, a radical feminist web site, as reported by the American Spectator.
Excerpt: (links removed)
Other examples include a Jezebel article that declares “the concept of fetal pain is bullshit.” It’s a fascinating piece, full of superfluous nicknames and profanities, centered on the astounding assertion that “there’s no evidence that nonviable fetal pain is a thing.” Even more fascinating, however, is that the author, Katie J.M. Baker, doesn’t cite one ounce of scientific evidence to support her claim. Instead, she awkwardly transitions into an incoherent rant against Republicans.
But despite the left’s panic, there is a strong case to be made that unborn children feel pain by 20 weeks.
In a 1999 article published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Dr. Vivette Glover and Dr. Nicholas M. Fisk explain a key fact:
The most important evidence [of fetal pain] is anatomical. For the fetus to feel pain, it is necessary for the requisite nociceptive pathways to be developed. This involves neural connections between peripheral receptors and the spinal cord, upward transmission via the spinal cord to the thalamus, and from there to the outer cerebral layers.
Among the scientific jargon lies a key word – “nociception,” which has to do with nociceptive neurons. These “generate trains of action potentials in response to painful stimuli, and the frequency of firing signals the intensity of the pain.” In other words, they are what make pain painful. Glover and Fisk say that “most incoming pathways, including nociceptive ones, are routed through the thalamus and, as stated above, penetrate the subplate zone from about 17 weeks” into a pregnancy.
Now it’s true we might never know for sure exactly when an unborn child feels pain and to what extent. But Glover, Fisk, and others conclude that it is very possible pain is felt by at least 20 weeks. “Given the anatomical evidence, it is possible that the fetus can feel pain from 20 weeks and is caused distress by interventions from as early as 15 or 16 weeks. This sets a limit to the earliest stage that analgesia might be considered,” according to Glover and Fisk. They don’t suggest that abortions should cease, but instead recommend that painkillers be administered to children about to be aborted.
Pro-lifers are very familiar with what a baby can do at all stages of development. We have to be, because we have to be able to debate this issue using the real evidence. We are also the ones who push for informed consent and mandatory ultrasound, whereas the other side opposes both of those. Why is that? It’s because the pro-life side has the evidence and pushes it, whereas the pro-abortion side tries to hide the evidence and appeal to feelings. Abortion supporters don’t know, and they don’t want anyone to know. Their embrace of abortion depends on their not knowing the truth.
Pro-lifer Amy Hall tweeted about an editorial from CNN that makes this point about willful ignorance. The author writes that pro-lifers want to ban abortion after 20 weeks in order to protect unborn children who have a heart beat. Huh? Unborn babies have a heart beat at week 6, according to the well-respected Mayo Clinic. That means that the CNN journalist was off by 14 weeks in her statement. That’s the level of knowledge that you have on the other side of the abortion debate. It’s a self-serving ignorance designed to give them maximum autonomy and maximum irresponsibility.
For myself, I think that I’ll continue to look up to pro-life women like Jaime Herrera Beutler and Michele Bachmann. They get it.