Email #307: “Staff does them”?

You must be outraged that your fellow House Pro-Life Caucus member Rep. Murphy pressured his mistress to have an abortion. Ms. Edwards, a woman half Murphy’s age, told him by text: you had “zero issue posting your pro-life stance all over the place when you had no issue asking me to abort our unborn child just last week.”

Murphy texted back that he was not responsible for his own anti-abortion messages: “I’ve never written them. Staff does them. I read them and winced. I told staff don’t write any more.”

Though Murphy has announced that he will not be running for reelection, he remains a voting member of the House. Like you, he voted for the recent so-called Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.

While I am shocked by Murphy’s hypocrisy, I am also disturbed by the fact that he took no responsibility for the messages released by his office under his own name. Is this common practice among Representatives? Did you, for instance, write the statement on your website that justifies your support of the “Pain-Capable” bill by citing a single researcher who concluded that 20-week fetuses can feel pain? Did you also write this sentence: “The scientific data provide unambiguous evidence that unborn children are living, feeling human beings”?

I ask because the statement is wincingly false. The scientific data is overwhelming ambiguous, and there is absolutely no scientific consensus at how many months of development a fetus is “feeling.” This not to argue that 20-week fetuses cannot feel pain. It is simply unknown. While I know that you believe life begins at conception, you harm your pro-life position by lying to support it.

But I assume you did not personally write the false statement, and I assume you also did not review all of the scientific data yourself. You must rely on your staff to do the majority of your research and drafting. While this seems reasonable, it leaves you vulnerable.

In this case, you may have been given false information because members of your staff thought the false information sounded rhetorically effective. Most lies do. When you signed-off on it, you made it your own regardless who originally drafted it. You presumably trusted that the statement was true. It was not, and so you now appear ignorant. Alternatively, you knew the statement was false, and you signed-off on it anyway, making yourself a liar.

Your colleague Rep. Murphy told his mistress he was ignorant. What would you like to tell your constituents?

Email #300: “Science has proven”?

I understand that the House will be voting today on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act which would make abortions after the middle of the second trimester illegal. You have justified your intention to vote for the bill by saying:

“Science has proven that at 20 weeks babies hear music, respond to human voices, and, most importantly, they can feel pain.”

This is a lie. Science has proven no such thing. The majority of scientific studies supports pain-capability at 24 weeks, 27-28 weeks, or 29-30 weeks.

According the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2005:

“Evidence regarding the capacity for fetal pain is limited but indicates that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester.”

According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 2010:

“In reviewing the neuroanatomical and physiological evidence in the fetus, it was apparent that connections from the periphery to the cortex are not intact before 24 weeks of gestation and, as most neuroscientists believe that the cortex is necessary for pain perception, it can be concluded that the fetus cannot experience pain in any sense prior to this gestation.”

According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in 2012:

“Supporters of fetal pain legislation only present studies which support the claim of fetal pain prior to the third trimester. When weighed together with other available information, including the JAMA and RCOG studies, supporters’ conclusion does not stand.”

According to even Newcastle University scholar Martin Platt, who supports the notion that fetuses feel pain:

“the literature on fetal behaviour, perception, organisation, movement and responses focuses largely on fetuses above 28 weeks of gestation, with a relative lack of studies on the fetus between 20 and 24 weeks. This results in too much reliance on neuroscience, too much reference to animal work, too much extrapolation from both of these and too little real-world human investigation on which to base a realistic view. No one would deny that there are important issues to be confronted, but a sensible debate needs a solid base of rigorous empirical enquiry.”

For these reasons FactCheck.org refutes the premise of Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act:

“A number of Republican House members say scientific research proves a 20-week-old fetus can feel pain. This is a complicated and controversial topic in science, but the ability to feel pain at that specific point in gestation is unproven… We reviewed the literature and spoke with several experts, and we conclude that a firm starting point for pain in the developing fetus is essentially impossible to pin down, and that definitive claims regarding pain perception at 20 weeks are unfounded.”

I understand that you are a career-long opponent of abortion, and I do not imagine that a single email will change your opinion. But whatever your stance on this or any topic, you and your colleagues on both sides of the aisle have a responsibility to the truth. You cannot claim to support a bill because of “science” when actual scientific consensus opposes the bill’s core premise. That is simply a lie.

If your position is so weak that it requires you to lie to your constituents, then you should change your position for one supported by facts. Instead you approach your job like an employee of George Orwell’s Ministry of Truth, distorting facts to suit your political agenda.