Utah Senate Approves Fetal Pain Abortion Bill, Sends to Governor Huntsman
by Steven Ertelt
March 4, 2009
Salt Lake City, UT (LifeNews.com) — The Utah Senate approved a bill Wednesday to allow women to know about the pain an abortion will cause to their unborn child. The pro-life measure now heads to Governor Jon Huntsman, who has not said whether he will sign it into law.
The bill requires abortion practitioners to tell women about the pain their baby will feel during an abortion. The measure is another effort to help reduce abortions until the day comes that unborn children are protected under law.
The Utah Senate passed the bill on a 22-4 vote after the House approved HB 222 on a 56-15 vote last month.
The bill allows women considering an abortion to provide anesthesia to the baby beforehand, which helps underscore how the abortion will hurt the baby. It allows them 24 hours to consider the pain information before going through with the abortion.
"If there is any chance of pain being there, this is the humane thing to do," Sen. Scott Jenkins, a Republican, told colleagues during the debate.
Sen. Scott McCoy, a Salt Lake City Democrat, called the bill a "scare tactic" aimed at convincing women against having an abortion.
"This really is just not necessary, and doesn’t service a legitimate purpose," he said, according to the Deseret News.
Sen. Chris Buttars, a sponsor of the bill, talked in favor of it and said that "a child is a child at conception, and for people to argue against it is to not give an option to a baby that the state gives a convicted murderer before an execution."
"And they talk about the doctor/patient relationship, well, one of the two is about to be killed," Buttars said. "I say we should be in favor of the one being killed."
Rep. Carl Wimmer, a Republican, was behind the measure in the House. It would apply to any abortions done beyond 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Wimmer hopes the bill will educate women about the humanity of their unborn child and prompt them to choose abortion alternatives. He says abortion advocates who deny unborn children don’t feel pain during an abortion are resorting to an antiquated view.
"The idea that a fetus at 20 weeks doesn’t feel pain is embarrassing, laughable and absurd," he said, calling it similar to the idea that slaves or newborn children don’t feel pain either.
Though pro-abortion opponents of the bill say unborn children have no capacity to feel pain, experts say it’s a certainty.
Dr. Kanwaljeet Anand of the University of Arkansas Medical Center has said he and other specialists in development of unborn children have shown that babies feel pain before birth as early as 20 weeks into the pregnancy.
Anand said many 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."
An April 2004 Zogby poll shows that 77% of Americans back "laws requiring that women who are 20 weeks or more along in their pregnancy be given information about fetal pain before having an abortion."
Only 16 percent disagreed with such a proposal, according to the poll, commissioned by the National Right to Life Committee.
ACTION: Contact Governor Huntsman at https://www.utah.gov/governor/contact/index.html and urge him to sign the bill into law.
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