New Bill Informs Women About Pain Babies Feel During Abortions

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 20, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New Bill Informs Women About Pain Babies Feel During Abortions

by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 20, 2004

Washington, DC ( — New legislation introduced in Congress will focus on an aspect of abortion that normally receives little attention — the pain that unborn children feel during an abortion. The bill would make certain that those performing abortions inform women of the pain unborn children experience during an abortion, especially later in pregnancy.

The Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act would specifically require abortion practitioners to tell women having abortions after 20 weeks that the unborn child feels pain.

Under the bill, women should be given the opportunity to allow her baby to have pain control drugs administered prior to the abortion.

During the recent trials of lawsuits seeking to overturn the federal ban on partial-birth abortions, Dr. Kanwaljeet Anand, a pain specialist, told a California judge that unborn children feel enormous pain during an abortion.

"There will be pain caused to the fetus. And I believe it will be severe and excruciating pain," Dr. Anand, a pediatrician at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, said.

Dr. Anand said that unborn children show increased heart rate, blood flow, and hormone levels in response to pain.

"The physiological responses have been very clearly studied," he said.

Yet, abortion practitioners are reluctant to tell women that’s the case.

Judge Richard Casey in New York asked abortion practitioner Marilynn Fredriksen what she tells women on whom she performs partial-birth abortions.

"Do you tell whether or not it will hurt the fetus," Judge Casey asked.

Fredriksen responded, "The intent [is] that the fetus will die during the process of uterine evacuation."

"Ma’am, I didn’t ask you that," Judge Casey persisted. "You will deliver the baby partially and then insert a pair of scissors in the base of the fetus’ skull. … Do you tell them whether or not that hurts the fetus?"

Fredricksen snapped, "I have never talked to a fetus about whether or not they experience pain."

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said the evidence is abundant that unborn children feel intense pain during an abortion.

"We cannot deny the medical evidence now before us," Perkins said. "From testimony taken during the recent partial-birth abortion hearings and advancements in the field of in utero technology, science is telling us unborn children as young as 20 weeks old can feel pain. The evidence we have is clear, and we should not keep that evidence from women."

An April Zogby poll shows that 77% of Americans back "laws requiring that women who are 20 weeks or more along in their pregnancy be given information about fetal pain before having an abortion."

Only 16 percent disagreed with such a proposal, according to the poll, commissioned by the National Right to Life Committee.

Despite the polling results, Perkins said he wouldn’t be surprised if abortion advocates opposed the new measure.

"Women have the right to know what happens when they have an abortion and they have a right to know the pain their unborn child will experience when it is being aborted. Anyone who would deny a woman such information is hardly a defender of women’s rights," Perkins said.

Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas and Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey, two leading pro-life advocates, are the bill’s main sponsors.

The Southern Baptist Convention and U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have joined NRLC and FRC in endorsing the legislation.