Pro-Life Group: Partial-Birth Abortion Decision Shows Need for Fetal Pain Bill

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 2, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Life Group: Partial-Birth Abortion Decision Shows Need for Fetal Pain Bill Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 2, 2004

Washington, DC ( — A leading pro-life organization says that the recent decision by a federal judge in New York calling the ban on partial-birth abortions unconstitutional points to the need for a bill to help women considering abortion understand the pain such abortions cause unborn children.

The National Right to Life Committee sent a letter to members of Congress on Wednesday urging them to support the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act (H.R. 4420).

"[E]very day in the United States unborn children are subjected to trauma that causes them excruciating pain, and that would be illegal if inflicted on animals in commerce or research," the letter says.

When a woman is considering an abortion "20 weeks after fertilization," abortion practitioners are required to provide women with information about the pain an unborn child experiences during an abortion.

The woman can then request that the unborn child be given pain medication prior to the abortion, the letter explains.

Pro-life groups also hope the information prompts some women to reconsider their decision to have an abortion.

Douglas Johnson, NRLC’s legislative director crafted the letter and says the information and pain control options must be given to women regardless of the abortion method used.

The Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act also includes a lengthy Congressional findings section citing scientific evidence and medical information pointing to fetal pain during abortions.

Johnson says the bill cites several federal laws intended to reduce pain inflicted on livestock and animals used in research. Pro-life groups argue that, if laws protect animals in certain situations, the law should also offer pain protection for unborn children.

Johnson’s letter points to testimony offered during the partial-birth abortion trials relating to fetal pain.

Despite overturning the partial-birth abortion ban, Judge Richard Casey recognized the pain caused by such abortions.

"The Court finds that the testimony at trial and before Congress establishes that D&X [partial-birth abortion] is a gruesome, brutal, barbaric, and uncivilized medical procedure," Casey wrote in his decision.

"A [partial-birth abortion] may subject fetuses beyond twenty weeks’ gestational age to ‘prolonged and excruciating pain,’" Casey wrote.

While the Bush administration plans to appeal the rulings against the partial-birth abortion ban, "Congress can and should act to prevent, to the extent possible, terrible suffering from being inflicted on unborn children by partial-birth abortion AND by "D&E" procedures that dismember them by brute force while they are still alive," Johnson concludes.

According to an April 2004 Zogby International poll, Americans support the idea behind the legislation.

By a 77-16 percent margin, the public supported "laws requiring that women who are 20 weeks or more along in their pregnancy be given information about fetal pain before having an abortion."

The legislation is supported by other pro-life groups such as the Family Research Council, the Christian Medical Association, and Concerned Women for America.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey in the House and in the Senate by Kansas Republican Senator Sam Brownback.

Related web sites:
National Right to Life –