House to Vote on Abortion-Fetal Pain Bill Wed, Senate May Vote Too

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 4, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

House to Vote on Abortion-Fetal Pain Bill Wed, Senate May Vote Too Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 4
, 2006

Washington, DC ( — The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on a measure that would instruct abortion facilities to tell a woman considering an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy that it will likely cause her unborn child severe pain. Should the House approve the bill during its Wednesday vote, the Senate would likely vote on it as well.

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.

Should the House approve the legislation, leading pro-life Sen. Sam Brownback said he would push for a vote in the Senate before Congress adjourns.

"I encourage my colleagues in the House of Representatives pass the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act next week," Brownback said in a statement to "And if they do, I intend to seek unanimous consent that the Senate take up and pass this critical piece of legislation."

Leading researchers have confirmed that babies have the capability of feeling intense pain before birth.
Dr. Kanwaljeet S. Anand, professor of pediatrics, anesthesiology, pharmacology and neurobiology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences is the recognized expert on fetal pain.

"The available scientific evidence makes it possible, even probable, that fetal pain perception occurs well before late gestation," he wrote in the May 2006 issue of Pain, a medical journal.

"Our current understanding of development provides the anatomical structures, the physiological mechanisms and the functional evidence for pain perception developing in the second trimester, certainly not in the first trimester, but well before the third trimester of human gestation," he explained.

The House vote is the first ever on the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act, which tells women considering an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy that the baby will feel pain.

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

Pro-life organizations are strongly supporting the bill with the hope that the national debate on it will change minds and that the measure’s provisions will prompt some women to reconsider a late-term abortion.

"In the United States unborn children are subjected to trauma through abortion that causes them excruciating pain, which would be illegal if inflicted on animals in commerce or research," National Right to Life legislative director Douglas Johnson wrote to members of Congress.

"The findings cite a number of existing federal laws that seek to diminish the suffering of animals, such as restrictions on how livestock are slaughtered and restrictions on the use of animals in medical research," Johnson added.

Johnson said the measure applies to all abortions done after 20 weeks of pregnancy, regardless of the method used.

On the anesthesia requirement, he said mothers would be allowed to sign a form saying whether they wanted anesthesia for their baby.

The measure, H.R. 6099, is a reworked version of an older measure and the newer one does not require that the abortion practitioner read a script to the woman considering an abortion. Instead, the Department of Health and Human Services would prepare a brochure about fetal pain abortion center would be obligated to give her.

Women are not given the information are provided with civil remedies under the bill to file a lawsuit against the abortion practitioner.

Johnson pointed to a Zogby poll conducted in April 2004 showing that Americans strongly support this kind of legislation.

The survey found 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" by a 77-16 percent margin.

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.