Georgia Lawmaker Promotes Fetal Pain-Based Abortion Ban

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 31, 2011   |   6:58PM   |   Atlanta, GA

A Georgia state lawmaker is promoting legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on the scientific evidence that unborn children experience considerable pain from abortions.

The legislation is similar to a Nebraska law that is on the books but has not been challenged in court by pro-abortion groups. The law is credited with driving late-term abortion practitioner LeRoy Carhart out of the state — as he now works for a Maryland-based abortion business.

State Rep. Allen Peake of Macon said his bill, HB 89, is modeled after that successful legislation and explained that the bill has the support of the House Republican caucus and leaders and pro-life Gov. Nathan Deal would sign it into law.

“We believe there’s clear evidence that it is feeling intense pain,” he said, according to WMAZ.

“By 20 weeks gestation, the unborn child has the physical structures necessary to experience pain. There is evidence that by 20 weeks gestation unborn children evade certain stimuli in a manner which in an infant or an adult would be interpreted to be a response to pain. Anesthesia is routinely administered to unborn children who are 20 weeks gestational age or older who undergo prenatal surgery,” he said.

Peake told WMAZ abortion is close to his heart because, 24 years ago, he and his wife  adopted a newborn from a pregnancy center from a mother who could have had an abortion but chose to allow him and his family to raise the child. The girl recently gave birth to his first grandbaby.

“This is real personal for me,” he said.

The science behind the concept of fetal pain is fully established and Dr. Steven Zielinski, an internal medicine physician from Oregon, is one of the leading researchers into it. He first published reports in the 1980s to validate research show evidence for it.

He has testified before Congress that an unborn child could feel pain at “eight-and-a-half weeks and possibly earlier” and that a baby before birth “under the right circumstances, is capable of crying.”

He and his colleagues Dr. Vincent J. Collins and Thomas J. Marzen  were the top researchers to point to fetal pain decades ago. Collins, before his death, was Professor of Anesthesiology at Northwestern University and the University of Illinois and author of Principles of Anesthesiology, one of the leading medical texts on the control of pain.

“The functioning neurological structures necessary to suffer pain are developed early in a child’s development in the womb,” they wrote.

“Functioning neurological structures necessary for pain sensation are in place as early as 8 weeks, but certainly by 13 1/2 weeks of gestation. Sensory nerves, including nociceptors, reach the skin of the fetus before the 9th week of gestation. The first detectable brain activity occurs in the thalamus between the 8th and 10th weeks. The movement of electrical impulses through the neural fibers and spinal column takes place between 8 and 9 weeks gestation. By 13 1/2 weeks, the entire sensory nervous system functions as a whole in all parts of the body,” they continued.

With Zielinski and his colleagues the first to provide the scientific basis for the concept of fetal pain, Dr. Kanwaljeet Anand of the University of Arkansas Medical Center has provided further research to substantiate their work.