The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would ban abortion at 20 weeks and later. The bill includes congressional recognition that an unborn child of 20 weeks has developed pain receptors and responds to painful stimuli as reasoning behind the ban. It creates exceptions in the case of risk of death or permanent injury of the mother, in case of rape, and in the case of incest against a minor. In cases of rape or incest, the rape or incest must be reported to a law enforcement agency prior to the abortion. The woman who the abortion is performed on could not be prosecuted under the act. The bill has been passed by the House.
The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on May 13, 2015.
Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act
Amends the federal criminal code to prohibit any person from performing or attempting to perform an abortion except in conformity with this Act's requirements.
Requires the physician to first determine the probable post-fertilization age of the unborn child, or reasonably rely upon such a determination made by another physician, by making inquiries of the pregnant woman and performing such medical examinations and tests as a reasonably prudent physician would consider necessary.
Prohibits an abortion from being performed if the probable post-fertilization age of the unborn child is 20 weeks or greater, except: (1) where necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, illness, or injury, excluding psychological or emotional conditions; (2) where the pregnancy is the result of rape against an adult woman and, at least 48 hours prior to the abortion, such woman has obtained counseling for the rape or medical treatment for the rape or an injury related to the rape; or (3) where the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest against a minor and the rape or incest has been reported prior to the abortion to a law enforcement agency or a government agency legally authorized to act on reports of child abuse. Requires the physician, prior to performing such an abortion, to place appropriate documentation in the patient's medical file of the receipt of such medical treatment or counseling or of the reporting of such rape or incest.
Permits a physician to terminate a pregnancy under such an exception only in the manner that provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive. Requires a physician performing an abortion under an exception provided by this Act, if (in reasonable medical judgement) the pain-capable unborn child has the potential to survive outside the womb, to ensure that a second physician trained in neonatal resuscitation is present and prepared to provide care to the child. Makes such requirements and the requirement to obtain an informed consent form inapplicable if compliance, in reasonable medical judgment, would pose a greater risk of: (1) the death of the pregnant woman; or (2) the substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, excluding psychological or emotional conditions, of the pregnant woman.
Requires, when a physician performs or attempts an abortion in accordance with this Act and the child is born alive, that:
any health care practitioner present at the time humanely exercise the same professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as would be exercised for a child born alive at the same gestational age in the course of a natural birth; the child born alive be immediately transported and admitted to a hospital; and a health care practitioner or any employee of a hospital, a physician's office, or an abortion clinic who has knowledge of a failure to comply with these requirements immediately report the failure to an appropriate state or federal law enforcement agency. Requires the physician who intends to perform an abortion under one of this Act's exceptions to first obtain a signed informed consent authorization form, which shall be presented in person by the physician and which shall consist of:
a statement by the physician indicating the probable post-fertilization age of the pain-capable unborn child; a statement that federal law allows an abortion after 20 weeks fetal age only if the mother's life is endangered by a physical disorder, illness, or injury when the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest against a minor; a statement that the abortion must be performed by the method most likely to allow the child to be born alive unless this would cause significant risk to the mother; a statement that in any case in which an abortion procedure results in a child born alive, federal law requires that child to be given every form of medical assistance that is provided to children spontaneously born prematurely, including transportation and admittance to a hospital; a statement that these requirements are binding upon the physician and all other medical personnel who are subject to criminal and civil penalties and that a woman on whom an abortion has been performed may take civil action if these requirements are not followed; and affirmation that each signer has filled out the informed consent form to the best of their knowledge and understands the information contained in the form. Requires the form to be: (1) signed in person by the woman seeking the abortion, the physician performing the abortion, and a witness; and (2) retained in the patient's medical file for six years from the later of the date of its creation or the date when it last was in effect.
Makes this Act's requirement for the exception, where the pregnancy is the result of rape against an adult woman, that the woman has obtained counseling or medical treatment for the rape at least 48 hours prior to the abortion inapplicable if the rape has been reported prior to the abortion to a law enforcement agency or Department of Defense victim assistance personnel.
Requires a physician who performs an abortion under an exception provided by this Act to comply with: (1) such applicable state laws regarding reporting requirements in cases of rape or incest that are in effect as the state's Attorney General may designate, and (2) any applicable state laws requiring parental involvement in a minor's decision to have an abortion.
Bars prosecution of a woman upon whom an abortion is performed in violation of this Act for violating or conspiring to violate this Act.
Authorizes: (1) a woman upon whom an abortion has been performed or attempted in violation of this Act to obtain appropriate relief in a civil action against any person who committed the violation, and (2) a parent of a minor upon whom an abortion has been performed or attempted under an exception and that was performed in violation of this Act to obtain such relief unless the pregnancy resulted from the plaintiff's criminal conduct. Defines "appropriate relief" in a civil action to include: (1) objectively verifiable money damages for all injuries, psychological and physical, occasioned by the violation; (2) statutory damages equal to three times the cost of the abortion; and (3) punitive damages. Directs the court to award a reasonable attorney's fee: (1) as part of the costs to a prevailing plaintiff in a civil action under this Act, and (2) in favor of the defendant if a defendant in a civil action prevails and the court finds that the plaintiff's suit was frivolous. Prohibits assessing damages, attorney fees, or other monetary relief against the woman upon whom the abortion was performed or attempted, except in the case of attorney fees for the defendant where the plaintiff's suit was frivolous.
Requires any physician who performs an abortion under this Act's exceptions to annually submit a summary of all such abortions to the National Center for Health Statistics. Directs the Center to annually issue a public report providing statistics by state for the previous year compiled from all of the summaries submitted to the Center.
Defines "abortion" to mean the use or prescription of any instrument, medicine, drug, or any other substance or device: (1) to intentionally kill an unborn child of a woman known to be pregnant; or (2) to intentionally terminate a pregnancy, with an intention other than to produce a live birth and preserve the life and health of the child after viability or to remove a dead unborn child.