Pro-Life Groups Coalesce Around New Fetal Pain Legislation

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 21, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Life Groups Coalesce Around New Fetal Pain Legislation

by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 21, 2004

Washington, DC ( — With President Bush signing three major pro-life bills into law, the question for pro-life lawmakers in Congress is what next.

That question was answered this week when leading pro-life groups joined with sponsors of new legislation that would make women considering abortions aware of the pain an unborn child suffers during an abortion.

With most of the leading pro-life organizations issuing statements backing the legislation, the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act will likely replace the partial-birth abortion ban and Unborn Victims Of Violence Act as the top legislative priority.

Gail Quinn of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said the legislation would bring "public attention to the pain suffered by unborn children whose lives are ended by abortion."

"There is near unanimous agreement that the unborn feel significant pain by their 20th week," added Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention. "A mother considering abortion should be made aware of this face and provided with the opportunity to ease her unborn child’s pain before she submits her child to the pain and death of an abortion."

The bill also enjoys the support of pro-life groups such as the Family Research Council, National Right to Life, and Concerned Women for America.

Sponsors of the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act hope to have hearings held and a vote taken on the legislation prior to the November elections.

"We’re going full-court press" on the bill, Rep. Christopher H. Smith, a New Jersey Republican who is sponsoring the measure in the House, said at the press conference announcing the legislation.

Meanwhile, the Washington Times reports that Senator Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican, is planning to ask Senate leaders to attach the legislation to another bill that comes before the Senate.

The push for the legislation comes as a result of testimony given during the partial-birth abortion ban trials. Abortion advocates filed three lawsuits seeking to overturn the prohibition of the gruesome procedure.

"The recent partial-birth-abortion ban trials have cut through the denial and drawn attention to the pain that unborn children feel during an abortion," Congressman Smith explained.

Backers of the bill also point to the use of anesthesia in surgeries on babies before birth.

The University of California at San Francisco is one of the leading centers in the world that performs surgeries on unborn children in utero. Although doctors there provide general anesthesia for women on whose babies the doctors are operating, separate anesthesia is given to the unborn child during the fetal surgery to make sure the baby doesn’t feel pain during the operation.

In addition to informing women about the pain unborn children feel during an abortion, abortion practitioners are required to allow women to have the opportunity to administer anesthesia medicine to their baby before the abortion procedure begins.

Those who perform abortions without following the bill’s requirements face fines and may be subject to losing their medical licenses.

The Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act is HR 4420 and already has 27 co-sponsors in the House.