by Steven Ertelt
August 5, 2007
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — One of the top pro-life members of Congress has reintroduced a bill in the House that tells women of the pain an unborn child feels during an abortion. The bill also requires abortion practitioners to offer mothers a chance to provide the baby pain control before birth in an effort to encourage her to not have the abortion.
Rep. Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican who co-chairs the pro-life caucus in Congress, is the key sponsor behind the modest bill.
Smith told LifeNews.com the goal of the bill is to expand and strengthen informed consent requirements abortion practitioners must follow and to persuade mothers that abortion isn’t in the best interest of the baby.
"Expert testimony and scientific studies have shown that unborn children have the ability to feel pain from 20 weeks of gestation," Smith explained. "As of now, there are no federal guidelines that require the provider to share this information with a woman seeking an abortion. This legislation would fill that void."
Experts on the development of unborn children say that pain during an abortion is likely, especially during later parts of pregnancy.
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."
Over 100 members of the House of Representatives have signed on to be original co-sponsors of Smith’s bill.
The House of Representatives voted on the bill in December and approved it on a 250-162 vote. However, the measure was brought up under special rules requiring a two-thirds vote and, as a result, the bill failed.
With abortion advocates now in control of Congress bills like Smith’s may not get a hearing or a debate and vote.
Sen. Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican who is running for president, reintroduced the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act in the Senate in January.
Pro-life groups strongly support the legislation as looking out for the interests of unborn children and also helping to reduce the number of abortions by providing women another reason not to have one.
"We hope that women will have compassion on their child when they learn their baby will experience extreme pain and choose instead for their baby to feel the loving touch of an embrace," Concerned Women for America president Wendy Wright says of the bill.
Smith agreed, and told LifeNews.com: "My hopes are, of course, that she will reconsider when these facts are presented."
Smith also noted that the partial-birth abortion ban trials leading up to the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the ban have drawn new attention to the pain that unborn children feel during an abortion.
In expert testimony during those trials, Dr. Kanwljeet Anand, Director of the Pain Neurobiology Lab at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute explained, "the human fetus possesses the ability to experience pain from 20 weeks of gestation, if not earlier, and the pain perceived by a fetus is possibly more intense than that perceived by term newborns or older children."
President Bush has promised to sign the measure into law should Congress approve it.