LifeNews.com

Minnesota Fetal Pain-Based Late Abortion Ban Introduced

by Steven Ertelt | St. Paul, MN | LifeNews.com | 3/7/11 7:24 PM

State

Minnesota legislators today introduced a bill in the Minnesota Senate and House of Representatives that would stop abortions after the point at which the unborn child can feel pain.

The measure would prohibit the killing of innocent unborn children at 20 weeks from conception based on the well-documented scientific evidence showing unborn children have an innate capacity to feel intense pain during an abortion.

“For far too long, Minnesota’s abortionists have been inflicting unconscionable suffering on unborn babies by killing them when they are already extraordinarily developed and pain-sensitive,” explained Scott Fischbach, executive director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, in a statement to LifeNews.com. “It is illegal to treat animals in such a brutal way; this bill will finally protect unborn children at 20 weeks and older from the torturous pain of abortion.”

The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, S.F. 649 and H.F. 936, is authored by Sens. Gretchen Hoffman, a Republican from Vergas, Warren Limmer of Maple Grove, and Reps. Mary Liz Holberg, a Republican from Lakeville, House Majority Leader Matt Dean of Dellwood, and House Speaker Kurt Zellers of Maple Grove.

The initiative is modeled after a law passed in Nebraska last year, which prohibits abortions after 20 weeks from conception. The Nebraska law has not been challenged in court by the abortion industry and was successful in forcing late-term abortion practitioner LeRoy Carhart to take a job doing abortions in Maryland, which has no late-term abortion limits.

Fischbach said overwhelming anatomical, behavioral and physiological evidence confirms that the developing unborn child is capable of experiencing tremendous pain by 20 weeks post-fertilization. This evidence did not exist when the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision removed all protections for unborn children and established abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy.

“People on both sides of the abortion debate should agree that the gratuitous suffering of the unborn child is incompatible with a humane and civilized society,” Fischbach said. “MCCL calls upon all state legislators to support the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.”

The most common abortion procedure used at 20 weeks is dilation and evacuation (D & E), which involves dismembering the unborn child, Fischbach noted. The abortionist uses forceps to tear apart the fetus in the womb, then reassembles the arms, legs, torso and head to ensure that no parts of the unborn child’s body have been left inside the woman.

“There is substantial medical evidence that an unborn child is capable of experiencing pain by 20 weeks after fertilization,” the bill reads. “It is the purpose of the state to assert a compelling state interest in protecting the lives of unborn children from the stage at which substantial medical evidence indicates that they are capable of feeling pain.”

The science behind the concept of fetal pain is fully established and Dr. Steven Zielinski, an internal medicine physician from Oregon, is one of the leading researchers into it. He first published reports in the 1980s to validate research showing evidence for it.

He has testified before Congress that an unborn child could feel pain at “eight-and-a-half weeks and possibly earlier” and that a baby before birth “under the right circumstances, is capable of crying.”

He and his colleagues Dr. Vincent J. Collins and Thomas J. Marzen  were the top researchers to point to fetal pain decades ago. Collins, before his death, was Professor of Anesthesiology at Northwestern University and the University of Illinois and author of Principles of Anesthesiology, one of the leading medical texts on the control of pain.

“The functioning neurological structures necessary to suffer pain are developed early in a child’s development in the womb,” they wrote.

“Functioning neurological structures necessary for pain sensation are in place as early as 8 weeks, but certainly by 13 1/2 weeks of gestation. Sensory nerves, including nociceptors, reach the skin of the fetus before the 9th week of gestation. The first detectable brain activity occurs in the thalamus between the 8th and 10th weeks. The movement of electrical impulses through the neural fibers and spinal column takes place between 8 and 9 weeks gestation. By 13 1/2 weeks, the entire sensory nervous system functions as a whole in all parts of the body,” they continued.

With Zielinski and his colleagues the first to provide the scientific basis for the concept of fetal pain, Dr. Kanwaljeet Anand of the University of Arkansas Medical Center has provided further research to substantiate their work.

“The neural pathways are present for pain to be experienced quite early by unborn babies,” explains Steven Calvin, M.D., perinatologist, chair of the Program in Human Rights Medicine, University of Minnesota, where he teaches obstetrics.