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December 5, 2016
Pennacchio/Oroho Fight for Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

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Senator Joe Pennacchio and Senator Steven Oroho were today joined by medical professionals and New Jersey Right to Life at a press conference calling on the legislature to pass their “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.”

Sen. Joe Pennacchio speaking at a New Jersey State House press conference on S-2026 on December 5, 2016. (

The Senators’ bill, S-2026, prohibits abortions after 20 weeks. Medical studies have shown unborn children can feel pain in the womb at least by 20 weeks, if not before.

“This is the time of year when we reflect on how to protect the most vulnerable members of society,” Senator Pennacchio (R-26) said. “That is why we chose today to call on those who control the legislative agenda to stand up for the rights of innocent unborn children. For who is more vulnerable than a baby who can feel pain in the womb, but cannot cry out for help? It is time for our leaders to listen to these children’s silent screams and immediately pass our Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.”

“The widely respected medical professionals who stood beside us today presented strong scientific evidence that children in the womb feel pain,” Senator Oroho (R-24) said. “They proudly support the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, as do I. As a parent, grandparent and a lifelong pro-life advocate, I cannot stand by and allow a single defenseless unborn child to endure the excruciating pain caused by abortion. The legislature has a sacred responsibility to safeguard every human life. I urge those who have the ability to move this legislation to do so immediately.”

Sen. Steven Oroho speaking at a New Jersey State House press conference on S-2026 on December 5, 2016. (

Under S-2026, those who perform an abortion in violation of the law will face $15,000 fines and/or up to five years imprisonment. The woman who receives the abortion cannot be prosecuted. The bill provides an exception in cases of rape against an adult woman as long as she has received medical care or counseling outside of the abortion industry. There is also an exception for cases of rape or incest of a minor as long as the abuse has been reported to social services or law enforcement to prevent ongoing abuse of a child. There is also a life of the mother exception.

Multiple medical professionals spoke at the press conference to express their support of the bill. Speakers included Fr. Michael Fragoso, who practiced pediatrics in Central Jersey for 25 years.

“When I started working in Pediatrics in 1980, the specialty of saving a baby 28-30 weeks gestation was considered “heroic” at that time,” Fr. Michael Fragoso said. “Now with the use of artificial surfactant to help the lungs as they mature, and newer techniques, viability has decreased to 22 weeks.”

“Between 20-30 weeks gestation, skin pain receptors are at the highest concentration per square centimeter than at any time in development and they are the closest to the surface, making them more sensitive,” Fr. Michael Fragoso added. “By 20 weeks gestation, increases in heart rate and secretion of stress hormones are seen in response to intrauterine needling. If we recognize that a baby born prematurely at 22 weeks can feel pain, why would that same baby not feel pain in the womb? That is why this legislation is so important, because it will protect babies in the womb beginning at this stage from experiencing the excruciating pain of abortion.”

Senator Michael Doherty (R-23), a co-sponsor of the bill, was also in attendance at the press conference.

Sen. Mike Doherty speaking at a New Jersey State House press conference on S-2026 on December 5, 2016. (

“As someone who is pro-life, I am proud to be a co-sponsor of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” Senator Doherty said. “We have a responsibility to protect those who cannot protect themselves, especially innocent unborn children. I urge the legislature to advance this bill and join our fight to defend the sanctity of human life.”

“Fetal surgeons recognize unborn babies as patients and routinely administer pain medication as standard medical practice,” Marie Tasy, Executive Director of New Jersey Right to Life, said. “Recent studies demonstrate that babies delivered as young as 20 weeks post fertilization (22 weeks gestation) can survive if provided with the proper treatment. It is time for New Jersey to acknowledge these advances in science and medicine and add our voice to the growing number of states seeking to protect pain capable babies in the womb by passing the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.”

The bill also includes the following provisions to protect women and their unborn children:

  • If in the case of an exception under this Act, the physician terminating or attempting to terminate a pregnancy, may do so only in a manner which, in reasonable medical judgment, provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive, unless in reasonable medical judgment, termination of the pregnancy would result in the death of the pregnant woman; or the substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the woman, not including psychological or emotional condition of the pregnant woman.
  • Born-Alive Infant Protections: A second physician must be present to provide care to unborn children who survive and the baby must be transported and admitted to a hospital.
  • Informed Consent: The woman must be given information about the age of the baby, the requirements under the law and her right to sue if the law is not followed.
  • The person who performs the abortion is required to comply with state reporting laws.
  • The woman is empowered with a civil right of action.
  • An annual statistical report of abortions carried out under the exceptions is required.

“This legislature takes great pride in advocating for all manner of living creatures, with the exception of innocent unborn children,” Senator Pennacchio said. “Since when did animals become more important than unborn children? This legislature must to do what is right and protect these babies with the same veracity that we defend animals.”

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