by Steven Ertelt
January 10, 2008
Sacramento, CA (LifeNews.com) — The California legislature wasted no time in defeating a bill that would address the pain babies experience during an abortion. The measure would have required abortion practitioners to provide women considering an abortion with information about fetal pain and anesthesia for the unborn child.
Backers of the bill hoped it would both educate the public on the destruction of human life during an abortion and help change the minds of women contemplating one.
Assemblyman John Benoit, a Republican from Riverside, introduced AB 1009 last year.
During a hearing on Tuesday, the Assembly Health Committee quickly defeated the bill after little debate or testimony from the public.
All eight of the Democratic members of the panel voted no on the measure while each of the five Republicans present voted in favor.
The vote happened so quickly and with such little deliberation that even the Sacramento Bee newspaper called the decision a "knee-jerk, politically polarized" one.
Bob Cielnicky of the Life Priority Network said pro-life advocates who wrote to lawmakers about the legislation shouldn’t get frustrated.
"If you took time to contact committee members before the vote, your efforts are not useless. You have helped keep the issue alive and legislators and their staff reminded of the tragedy of abortion," he told LifeNews.com.
Pro-life groups have been promoting fetal pain bills as a way to educate and reduce abortions ever since researchers first revealed that unborn children can experience significant pain during the procedure.
Dr. Kanwaljeet Anand of the University of Arkansas Medical Center is one of the leading researchers on fetal pain and he told the KTHV television in an interview last year that he has no doubt that babies have the capacity to feel intense pain by the second trimester.
Anand confirmed that the baby’s ability to feel pain before birth "will develop sometime during the second trimester and by the third trimester the pain system is completely functional.”
Dr. Anand told the television station that 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 a spouse during pregnancy will have an impact on the brain of this fetus is developing and what is going to be this child’s behavior," he added.
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.
Anand has 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."
Anand explained that later-term abortion procedures, such as a partial-birth abortion "would be likely to cause severe pain."