Missouri House lawmakers passed an amendment this week to protect unborn babies from painful, late-term abortions.
The Associated Press reports the measure passed in a 101-39 vote Tuesday. It would prohibit abortions starting at 20 weeks when strong scientific evidence indicates unborn babies can feel pain.
State lawmakers also approved a second amendment that would put in place stricter rules banning the sale or donation of aborted babies’ body parts and update the state parental consent law when a minor has an abortion, according to the AP.
KBIA News reports more:
The abortion restrictions came in the form of two amendments to an underlying bill, which now returns to the Senate. The first, banning abortions 20 weeks after fertilization, passed 101-39; more than a dozen states ban abortions after 20 weeks. Amendment sponsor Rep. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove, said the provision would stop abortions after the fetus can feel pain, which is a disputed claim.
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The other amendment is similar to a Senate bill that is awaiting a committee hearing. While four other states require two-parent consent or notice before a minor can have an abortion, the Guttmacher Institute says Missouri would be the first state to put the burden of notifying a non-custodial parent on the custodial parent, not the doctor or the clinic. There are exceptions, including if the non-custodial parent is a fugitive, a sex offender or has had a restraining order filed against him or her by the custodial parent.
Currently, 16 states have pain-capable unborn child protection laws in effect, Kentucky being the most recent. Iowa lawmakers also passed a 20-week ban at the end of April, and Gov. Terry Branstad is expected to sign it.
Together, these laws potentially are saving thousands of babies from painful, late-term abortions. There were at least 5,770 abortions at or after 21 weeks of pregnancy in 2013 in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control. Another 8,150 abortions took place between 18 weeks and 20 weeks, the CDC reports.
Though abortion advocates deny the science of fetal pain at 20 weeks, researchers have fully established fetal pain at 20 weeks or earlier. 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 unborn pain.
At 20 weeks, the unborn child has all the parts in place – the pain receptors, spinal cord, nerve tracts, and thalamus – needed for transmitting and feeling pain. The unborn child responds to touch as early as week 6; and by week 18, pain receptors have appeared throughout the child’s body.
Dr. Colleen A. Malloy, a professor of neonatology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, told a U.S. Senate committee last year that “anesthesiologists, and surgeons use pain medication” for unborn babies at the 20 week stage when performing surgery, “because it’s supported by the literature completely.”
“I could never imagine subjecting my tiny patients to a horrific procedure such as those that involve limb detachment or cardiac injection,” Malloy added.