Congress to Hold Vote on Abortion-Fetal Pain Measure Next Week

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 27, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Congress to Hold Vote on Abortion-Fetal Pain Measure Next Week Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 27
, 2006

Washington, DC ( — The House of Representatives will hold the first-ever vote next week on a measure that would inform women considering an abortion after 20 weeks into pregnancy that their baby will feel intense pain as a result of the abortion.

The bill also requires abortion practitioners to offer the mother a chance to give the baby anesthesia beforehand.

Rep. Chris Smith, a pro-life New Jersey Republican, is the lead sponsor of the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act (H.R. 6099) and 93 members of the House have signed on as co-sponsors.

The measure came into existence following testimony in Congress during debate on the federal partial-birth abortion ban as witnesses testified that unborn children past 20 weeks from fertilization feel excruciating pain during the course of an abortion.

The House will consider the bill under the "Suspension Calendar" which means the legislation needs a two-thirds vote in order to pass.

Whether the bill receives the necessary two-thirds vote, consideration of the measure provides pro-life lawmakers the first real chance to start a national discussion of the pain babies feel during abortions.

A doctor who is considered the leading expert on fetal pain says he has no doubt that babies have the capacity to feel intense pain by the second trimester. In the third trimester of pregnancy, he says the internal systems for feeling pain are completely developed.

Dr. Kanwaljeet Anand of the University of Arkansas Medical Center has confirmed that the baby’s ability to feel pain before birth.

In a June interview with a Little Rock television station he said an unbon child’s ability to feel pain "will develop sometime during the second trimester and by the third trimester the pain system is completely functional.”

Anand has 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."

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

A British study conducted in April confirms Anand’s explanation about fetal pain.

Published in the Journal of Neuroscience by a team from University College London, the study analyzed brain scans taken on premature babies when blood was being drawn from them.

The results found that babies as young as 24 weeks after pregnancy can feel pain and the researchers hope the study will prompt new pain treatment methods.

Dr. Anand said causing an unborn child pain could have adverse long-term ramifications.

"Some fetuses that are chronically exposed to very toxic environments will be stressed simply from the fact that they are in these very loud, very difficult environments," he said.

"There’s also this issue of abuse. Abuse of spouse pretty clearly during pregnancy, and that will have an impact on the brain of this fetus is developing and what is going to be this child’s behavior," he added.

ACTION: Contact your member of Congress and urge strong support for the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act. You can call any member at 1-202-224-3121 or go to to look up your representative.