WASHINGTON — Legislation that would prohibit abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, at which point science indicates that unborn babies are able to feel pain, has been presented in the U.S. Senate.

“At 20 weeks, mothers are encouraged to speak and sing, as the baby can recognize the voice of the mother,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who unveiled the bill at a Nov. 7 press conference.

“The question for the American people is: ‘Should we be silent when it comes to protecting these unborn children entering the sixth month of pregnancy? Or is it incumbent on us to speak up and act on their behalf?’” he said. “I say we must speak up and act.”

The House of Representatives passed a pain-capable abortion ban in June by a vote of 228-196. As of its introduction, the Senate legislation was co-sponsored by 33 members of the Senate, including Sens. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., John McCain, R-Ariz., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

Similar fetal-pain abortion bans have been enacted at the state level in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Oklahoma and, most recently, Texas.

Graham explained that abortion practices should be reconsidered in light of advances in scientific technology since the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision, which declared abortion to be protected by the U.S. Constitution.

“Science and technology have advanced tremendously since 1973,” he said.

“We now know that an unborn child at the 20th week of pregnancy can feel pain,” Graham stated, pointing to the fact that anesthesia has been given to unborn patients during surgery.

“Given these facts and my continued strong support for life,” he said, “I believe there is a compelling interest in protecting these unborn children, who are among the most vulnerable in our society. I'm confident that, over time, the American people and their elected representatives will say Yes as well.”

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, joined Graham at the press conference, saying that, while public opinion on the legality of abortion is divided, “on one point there is a growing consensus: We must all work together to reduce the number of abortions.”

“With all of the innovative medical treatments now available, more Americans are realizing that we are talking about children that deserve protection and overwhelmingly believe that we need a law like this,” he added.

“The unborn are the most vulnerable members of our society, and I am committed to ongoing efforts to protect innocent life,” Portman said.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life advocacy group Susan B. Anthony List, also spoke at the Nov. 7 press conference, saying the bill was her organization’s “top priority.”

“What we propose today is simple and foundational: The child in the womb is a member of the human family,” she said. “At six months and even earlier, that child suffers excruciating pain from the cruel dismemberment of its body or the piercing of its heart.”

“Whether we as a nation should continue to authorize and practice the killing of these innocent members of our families is a great civilizational question,” Dannenfelser said. “Anything less is unworthy of us as a free and generous people who wish that resounding phrase ‘Equal Justice Under Law’ to be something more than an echo of some lost dream.”