The Sochi Olympics are over and the medals have been counted. It was a tough winter for Team USA. We walked away with a total of twenty-eight medals, unfortunately only nine of them gold, putting us at fourth for the gold count. But there’s always another arena in which the United States dominates—though it should hardly inspire national pride. The U.S. is one of seven countries that currently permits elective abortion beyond twenty weeks, more than halfway through pregnancy.

A new report commissioned by the Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) and co-released with Life Canada, investigated 199 countries with a population of a million or more. The laws of 140 of them protect unborn babies to some extent. Nearly sixty countries permit elective abortions but with some baby-protective limits. The United States, along with Canada, are among just seven countries that allow elective abortions of unborn children who are twenty weeks and older. That puts us well outside of international norms—and in bad company: with China, North Korea and Vietnam, as well as with Singapore, and the Netherlands.

If comparing population size, the U.S. gets a silver medal in the category of late abortions, outranked only by China.

That’s not one to be proud of.

Many Americans believe that Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court’s abortion ruling of January 22, 1973, legalized the aborting only of babies who are in their first three months of gestation. But the reality is that under Roe and its companion decision, Doe v. Bolton, babies can be aborted right up to the day of their birth, with few restrictions. You heard that right: U.S. law permits elective abortions even of unborn infants more than halfway through pregnancy—babies whom medicine and science tell us are old enough to feel the agony of being put to death.

No one knows for certain how many late-term babies die in these abortions each year, because abortion reporting is notoriously sketchy; but the toll is surely 12,000 babies every year and probably many more. One gauge is that in a report issued this past February 3, the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, formerly an arm of the abortion giant Planned Parenthood, said that 23 percent of U.S. abortionists “offer abortion after 20 weeks” and 11 percent “offer abortions at 24 weeks.” If nearly a quarter of U.S. abortionists are killing late-term babies, and the annual U.S. abortion death toll is around one million infants, the number of late-term baby fatalities could be high indeed, protestations of the abortionists and their lobby to the contrary notwithstanding.

These killings constitute nothing less than barbarity, and their continued legality should be a cause of shame to all Americans.

The polls confirm just that. Once Americans learn the state of our nation’s extremely permissive laws, they are not happy with abortionists having open season on late-term infants. In 2013, polls by Quinnipiac, the National Journal, the Huffington Post, NBC/Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post/ABC News all found that a plurality or a majority of Americans support protecting babies after twenty weeks gestation and that more women than men back this stance.

Many Americans are seeking to enact laws to protect babies who are twenty weeks and older. Two states have had such laws since before Roe v. Wade. Eleven more states have passed twenty-week-baby laws in recent years. There is also interest in a federal law to save twenty-week babies; last year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed such a bill, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Act, and a similar measure has been introduced in the U.S. Senate.

Any bill to protect unborn babies would seem to have little chance in the U.S. Senate at present. Nor would our pro-abortion chief executive consider signing it. But the fact remains that enacting a twenty-week-baby measure into law would bring the United States away from the fringe and more into line with mainstream international law and practice. It would make our country less of an abortion-policy outlier among the nations.

Just imagine if our anti-life lawmakers would take a lesson from some of their pro-abortion colleagues. For example, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for years has insisted that U.S. courts should learn from the “wisdom” of foreign judges and courts. She has stated, “We can learn from our jurists abroad how to resolve problems.” And she has asked, “Why not take advantage of what there is elsewhere in the world?”

All right, then, let us “learn from our jurists abroad” and follow their lead in saving the lives of older unborn babies. Let us “take advantage of what there is elsewhere in the world” and start having mercy on our babies instead of abandoning them to the abortionists. The need is great and the time is right.

Chuck Donovan is president of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the education and research arm of the Susan B. Anthony List.

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