Missouri Lawmaker Proposes Bill to Address Baby’s Pain During Abortion

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 6, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Missouri Lawmaker Proposes Bill to Address Baby’s Pain During Abortion

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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
December 6, 2005

Jefferson City, MO (LifeNews.com) — A Missouri lawmaker has proposed legislation for consideration next year that would address the pain unborn children feel during abortions. Under the measure, women would be told about the pain and be offered a chance to have anesthesia administered to the unborn child prior to the abortion.

Sen. Chuck Gross, a Republican from St. Charles, is the sponsor of the Unborn Child Pain Prevention Act, which would require abortion practitioners to tell women considering an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy that the abortion will cause the baby severe pain.

"Since it’s been discovered that very early on after gestation an unborn baby feels pain, that information and anesthesia should be offered to the woman that is considering an abortion," Gross told the Columbia Missourian newspaper.

Pro-life groups are expected to support the measure, which they hope will help convince more women to seek abortion alternatives.

But abortion advocates, like Sen. Joan Bray, a St. Louis Democrat, will not support the commonsense bill.

Bray claims there is no evidence that unborn children feel pain, even though leading experts say it’s conclusive.

“Women want health care, not politics when they go in the doctor’s office,” Bray said. “They want accurate, appropriate information that’s based on good, most recent science.”

Dr. Kanwaljeet Anand of the University of Arkansas Medical Center says 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."

Still, Peter Brownlie, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas City and Mid-Missouri, said his group would oppose informing women about it.

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.