GOP Rep.: ‘There are Better Ways to Protect the Health of Women Than by Killing Their Children’

By Penny Starr | February 22, 2012 | 5:30 PM EST

Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), author of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. (AP Photo)

( – Responding to critics who claim proposed legislation to outlaw abortions at 20 weeks or later in the District of Columbia is an attack on women’s reproductive rights, Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) said Wednesday that abortion was not about women’s health.

“The bottom line is, there are better ways to protect the health of women than by killing their children for them,” Franks, the bill’s author, told

Franks said the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 3803), introduced in the House in January and now co-sponsored by 130 members, would make abortions performed at 20 weeks gestation or later unlawful in the District. The bill cites scientific evidence that unborn babies in the late third trimester can feel significant pain.

It also cites specific wording in the Constitution spelling out that Congress “shall ‘exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever' over the District established as the seat of government of the United States, now known as the District of Columbia.”

Franks said the Constitution instructs Congress to protect the “life, liberty and property” of every human being, including the unborn.

“And that’s what we’re doing,” he said, adding that D.C. has fewer restrictions on abortion than anywhere else in the nation.

At a press conference Tuesday, representatives of Planned Parenthood, the American Abortion Federation and the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) Pro-Choice America, criticized the bill as “anti-choice.”

“This Congress is out of touch with this country’s values and priorities,” Lissy Moskowitz, NARAL deputy policy director and general counsel said at the event.

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) called the bill “dangerous” and said it targeted women who live in D.C., while D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray described it as “another assault on freedom.”

National Right to Life Committee legislative director Douglas Johnson told that Frank’s bill was in keeping with laws passed in five states – Nebraska, Kansas, Idaho, Alabama and Oklahoma – restricting abortion at 20 weeks or later gestation to protect unborn babies from a painful abortion. Other states are considering similar legislation, he said.

Johnson disputed claims that the bill is tied to residency in the District of Columbia, stating that if it becomes law it would ban abortions at 20 weeks or later in D.C., no matter where the woman seeking the abortion resides.

He said the bill is in line with Congress’ and the president’s constitutional obligations to oversee the nation’s capital, which “belongs to all of the American people.”

“In short, if unborn babies in the nation's capital, in the sixth month and later, continue to be brutally dismembered with forceps, or have their hearts impaled with spinal needles, the responsibility for that will rest entirely on the Congress and the President,” Johnson said.

Franks called the more than 50 million abortions performed in the U.S. since the Supreme Court legalized the procedure in 1973 a “genocide.”

He said good statesmanship called for enacting laws in the nation’s capital that reflect the Constitution’s 14th Amendment’s guarantee of the right to life, liberty and property, and equal treatment under the law for all human beings – including the unborn.

“[The bill] demonstrates the humanity of the unborn child and the inhumanity that is being done to them in the land of the free and the home of the brave,” Franks said.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) has introduced a companion bill, S. 2103, in the U.S. Senate.