Abortion Ban Ruling Ignores Evidence on Pain Babies Feel in Abortion
by Steven Ertelt
June 1, 2004
San Francisco, CA (LifeNews.com) — In ruling the ban on partial-birth abortions unconstitutional, U.S. District Court Judge Phyllis Hamilton said the fact that unborn children feel intense pain during the gruesome abortion procedure is "irrelevant."
"There is no consensus of medical opinion on the issue," Judge Hamilton wrote in her ruling. "However, it appears to be irrelevant to the question of whether [partial-birth abortion] should be banned."
In fact, Hamilton said the issue of fetal pain is also not germane because unborn children may feel greater pain in other abortion procedures such as "disarticulation abortions" — where the baby is dismembered.
"Although Congress justified the ban in part on its finding that the partial-birth abortion method would cause excruciating pain to the partly born infant, Judge Hamilton dismissed this factor," the National Right to Life Committee said in a statement.
Members of Congress, after holding extensive hearings on the issue, found that "the fetus’ perception of pain is even more intense than that of newborn infants and older children when subjected to the same stimuli" and that the "fetus fully experiences the pain associated with decompression of the skull and suction of its contents."
Several doctors told Hamilton, a Clinton appointee, that the Congressional findings were accurate.
Dr. Kanwaljeet Anand, a pain specialist, said that unborn children feel enormous pain during an abortion and show increased heart rate, blood flow, and hormone levels in response to pain.
"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. "The physiological responses have been very clearly studied."
Hamilton claimed that the doctors who provided testimony in favor of the partial-birth abortion ban were not impartial because of their position against abortion.
However, Hamilton did not say whether abortion practitioners who served as witnesses for Planned Parenthood were biased because of their profession.
The issue of fetal pain has prompted members of Congress to propose new legislation informing women considering abortions that their babies will feel intense pain if they have an abortion.
On May 20, Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), along with more than two-dozen cosponsors, introduced the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act.
The pro-life bill would specifically require abortion practitioners to tell women having abortions after 20 weeks that the unborn child feels pain. Under the bill, a woman would be given the opportunity to allow her baby to have pain control drugs administered prior to the abortion.
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.