Wisconsin Legislature Debates Bill on Babies’ Pain During Abortions

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 12, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Wisconsin Legislature Debates Bill on Babies’ Pain During Abortions Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
October 12, 2005

Madison, WI (LifeNews.com) — The state Assembly Health Committee debated a bill on the pain unborn children feel during an abortion at a hearing on Tuesday. The measure would require abortion practitioners to inform women that abortions on babies after 20 weeks of pregnancy would cause them intense pain. It allows them to ask for anesthesia for the child during the abortion.

Assembly Bill 321 also requires the information to be published, updated and revisited as research learns more about how abortion hurts unborn children.

Planned Parenthood representatives Chris Taylor and Lisa Boyce attended the hearing and strongly opposed the bill. They claim it requires abortion practitioners to mislead women with wrongful medical information.

"It coerces women into changing their minds on abortion," Taylor said, according to a report int he Daily Cardinal newspaper.

She added there is "no credible scientific evidence" to support the information doctors would provide under the bill and called the information "invasive, inflammatory and misleading" to women considering abortions.

However, Dr. Kanwaljeet Anand of the University of Arkansas Medical Center, one of the leading researchers into fetal pain, said he and other specialists in development of unborn children have shown that babies feel pain before birth as early as 20 weeks into the pregnancy.

Anand said other 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."

Wisconsin Right to Life is pressing for the legislation and legislative director Susan Armacost says women have a right to know the information.

"Women who are considering abortion at 20 weeks or more have a right to know all pertinent information relating to the abortion procedure and to their unborn children. After all, the decision whether to carry a baby to term or to abort the baby is a life-altering, irreversible decision involving life and death," said Armacost.

Anand explained that later-term abortion procedures, such as a partial-birth abortion "would be likely to cause severe pain."

Other experts agree with his analysis.

Dr. Steven Calvin, perinatologist at the University of Minnesota says, "The neural pathways are present for pain to be experienced quite early by unborn babies."

Dr. Robert J. White, professor of neurosurgery, Case Western University says "an unborn child at 20 weeks gestation "is fully capable of experiencing pain. Without question, abortion is a dreadfully painful experience for any infant subjected to such a procedure."

An April 2004 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.

Related web sites:
Wisconsin Right to Life – https://www.wrtl.org