by Steven Ertelt
January 27, 2005
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Congressional lawmakers introduced legislation on Wednesday targeting the pain an unborn child feels during an abortion. The bill is a top legislative priority for pro-life groups this session and has been endorsed by President Bush.
Under the bill, abortion practitioners would have to tell any woman considering an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy that the abortion procedure will cause significant pain for the unborn child.
In addition, the legislation requires that the mother be given the opportunity to have anesthesia administered to the baby prior to the abortion.
The legislation is sponsored in the Senate by Kansas Republican Senator Sam Brownback and on the House side by Rep. Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican. The measure already has 32 co-sponsors.
Several pro-life groups, including the Family Research Council and the National Right to Life Committee, hailed the introduction of the bill and pledged their full support.
"The Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act reflects the growing knowledge and concern among Americans for unborn children," said Wendy Wright, of Concerned Women for America. "This legislation applies the most up-to-date scientific information to this issue by requiring abortionists to provide medically accurate information that, without a law, they simply refuse to give to women."
"Medical research now confirms what we’ve suspected for some time: The baby in the womb can feel the pain of an abortion," added Dr. James Dobson, a leading pro-family spokesman.
Just as the partial-birth abortion ban had a practical effect and an educational component, the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act would offer pain relief for unborn children, but also educates the public and helps women rethink a possible decision to have an abortion.
However, abortion advocates strongly oppose the legislation.
"There is a great deal of debate in the medical community about this issue and what is contained in this bill is based on speculation and inference," said Bobbie Kierstead, with Planned Parenthood of Nebraska.
During the partial-birth abortion trials, fetal pain became an issue.
A leading expert on the pain unborn children experience during pregnancy, Dr. Kanwaljeet Anand of the University of Arkansas Medical Center, said medical studies conclude that unborn babies are "very likely" to be "extremely sensitive to pain during the gestation of 20 to 30 weeks."
"This is based on multiple lines of evidence," Dr. Anand said. "Not just the lack of descending inhibitory fibers, but also the number of receptors in the skin, the level of expression of various chemicals, neurotransmitters, receptors, and things like that."