Fetal Pain Bill Reintroduced in Both Houses of Congress

Concern for Life

If the “Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act” passes congress, women contemplating abortion must be offered anesthesia for their unborn babies if they are over 20 weeks old. This legislation was reintroduced in both houses of Congress in late January 2005. It also requires that women be informed about fetal development and the ability of the their babies to feel pain at early stages.

This legislation is critical step in the effort to protect the unborn and educate the public on the realities and horrors of abortion.

First, it would help people to understand the humanity of the unborn that in fact they are persons who can feel excruciating pain, even more than infants and small children. Women who have abortions are often misled and pressured into them by the fathers or well meaning and uninformed family and friends. Many make the decisions for abortions thinking that the babies growing in their wombs are just “blobs” of tissue. In fact the fetus is just one stage in the continuum of human development and are unique unrepeatable manifestations of God’s love. This legislation would make a significant step in the direction informing women so that more can make better choices for themselves and their babies.

If women, know the facts still decided to abort her babies, than it is important that they have the option to have their babies anesthetize to reduce their suffering.

An April 2004 Zogby poll found 77 percent of Americans favor laws that require giving women information about fetal pain before having an abortion if they are in 20 weeks or more into their pregnancies. But polls by themselves have no consequences to members of Congress unless they see active support for the measure from their constituents. It is therefore up to us to spread the word and get our family members and friends to contact members of Congress asking them to pass the “Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act” as soon as possible.

The impetus for this legislation came out of shocking testimony on fetal pain by medical experts in a challenge to the Partial Birth Abortion Law in a New York Federal District Court in early 2004. Partial birth abortion is a procedure that is used on unborn babies 20 weeks after conception and older.

U.S. District Judge Richard C. Casey concluded from the testimony that fetuses at this age may be subjected to “prolonged and excruciating pain” as described in the [PBA] law’s finding. He continued, “Because the density of receptors is greater in the fetal skin at about twenty weeks of gestation, and because the mechanisms that inhibit and modulate the perception of pain do not develop until after thirty-two to thirty-four weeks’ gestation, there was testimony that a fetus likely feels severe pain while the procedure is being performed.”

Further, Casey noted, “When questioned about whether they spoke to their patients about fetal pain, Plaintiffs’ answers ranged from uncertainty about whether fetuses feel pain to a lack of caring on the matter … Most of Plaintiffs’ experts acknowledged that they do not describe to their patients what the [abortion] procedures entail in clear and precise terms.”

Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) the sponsor in the US Senate said, “The Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act is about empowering women with information. It is also about respecting and treating the unborn child more humanely.” Senator Brownback also made the point that under US law, livestock have laws that require they be protected from pain, but the unborn have no such protections.

Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) reintroduced the bill in the House on the same day it was introduced in the Senate.

No abortion procedures would be prohibited by the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act. It is an informed consent bill.

Take Action Now

Please email, fax or mail a letter to your Senators and Congressman and ask them to support the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act. It is time that women are given information about abortion and its consequences so that they can make a truly informed decision. They must be given the option to protect their unborn babies from pain should they make the unfortunate choice to have an abortion.

The House Bill number is H.R. 356 The Senate Bill number is S. 51

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