House of Representatives Debates Abortion-Fetal Pain Measure

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 6, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 6
, 2006

Washington, DC ( — The House of Representatives on Wednesday debated a measure that would provide information to women considering an abortion showing that the abortion will cause their baby severe pain. The House postponed a vote on the measure until later in the day.

Rep. Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican who sponsored the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act, called the bill a "modest but necessary expansion of informed consent."

He said the bill is important because it provides women information they normally don’t receive from an abortion practitioner and said the fetal pain data would likely convince some women to opt against an abortion.

"We know for a fact from former and current day abortionists that they refuse to discuss pain — it’s just not part of what they convey to the woman [before the abortion]," Smith said.

Rep. Frank Pallone, a New Jersey Democrat, led the debate for abortion advocates and claimed the House would be making a "huge mistake" by approving a bill on such a "very controversial issue.

"For us to mandate that every woman has to get what may be misinformation is wrong," Pallone said. He claimed scientists are not united on the notion that babies are able to experience pain before birth.

Yet, the leading scientists in the field disagree.

Dr. Jean Wright, Professor and Chair of Pediatrics at the Mercer School of Medicine, previously told Congress that premature infants born after 23 to 26 weeks of pregnancy feel intense pain when blood is drawn from them.

"We roll back the sheets or the blanket, and you would look to the facial expression, their response to the heel stick, and you would understand," she said. "You would not need a congressional hearing to figure out whether that infant feels pain."

Rep. Steve King of Iowa also joined the debate Wednesday and said laws provide pain relief for animals during research but not for unborn children subjected to abortions.

"It makes no sense to allow unborn children to be subjected to trauma through abortion that causes them excruciating pain, when this cruel treatment would be illegal if inflicted on animals in commerce or research," the Republican lawmaker said.

The Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act, HR 6099, also provides a mother an opportunity to give her baby anesthesia prior to the abortion.

Smith explained that the pro-life community opposes abortion but should support pain relief for the unborn child.

"It is horrifying that unborn children are subjected to such a violent and inhumane death but to do so without even giving the mother the opportunity to ask for pain reducing medicine is simply unconscionable," Smith concluded. "Abortion already takes the lives of unborn children, but must the children also be tortured?"

Some of the other members of Congress who spoke in favor of the bill during the debate included Reps. Nathan Deal and Phil Gingrey of Georgia, Joseph Pitts of Pennsylvania, Dave Weldon and Illeana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, Steve Chabot of Ohio, Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, and Shelly Sekula Gibbs of Texas

Pro-abortion Reps. Henry Waxman and Lois Capps of California also joined Pallone in opposing the measure.