Two pro-life bills the state legislature gave final approve to on Wednesday are on their way to Governor Mary Falin and are expected to be signed into law soon.
One bill, House Bill 1888, prohibits abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on the scientific evidence showing unborn children have the capacity to feel intense pain. A second measure, Senate Bill 547, prohibits taxpayer funding of abortions via the state health insurance exchange created under the Obamacare law.
The first bill, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, would require abortion practitioners to determine the age of an unborn child prior to an abortion and would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks — a clear point in science when unborn children have the ability to feel intense pain. The House voted 94-2 for the measure while senators sign off on the bill 38-8.
Sen. Clark Jolley, a Republican, sponsored the bill and told his colleagues an unborn child can begin to feel pain as early as 16 weeks and can respond to stimuli at 20 weeks, saying, “Surely, we shouldn’t rip someone’s limbs apart while terminating the pregnancy.”
“The bill before you says we are not going to torture children in utero by saying we are not going to allow abortion after 20 weeks unless the mother’s life is in danger,” Jolley said, according to the Tulsa World.
Some Democrats opposed the bill, including Sens. Jim Wilson and Eason McIntrye and complained about Republicans using abortion as an election tool and said women should not be prevented from getting them.
Other Democrats expect a lawsuit against the bill even though the first-in-the-nation law Nebraska passed that is similar has not been the subject of a lawsuit. The Nebraska 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.
Oklahomans for Life strongly supported the bill and Tony Lauinger, the state president of the group, told LifeNews.com, “HB 1888, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, would ban the aborting of an unborn child who is capable of feeling pain. Medical evidence shows that a baby can feel pain by 20 weeks after fertilization. HB 1888 would save lives and would help Oklahomans better understand the humanity of the unborn child.”
The group also supported SB 547, the Abortion-Is-Not-Health-Care bill that Lauinger said “would prohibit coverage for elective abortions under health-insurance plans in Oklahoma, affirm the principle that abortion is not health care, and protect the conscience rights of pro-life premium payers so they’re not complicit in the killing.”
The bill’s author, Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, said it “prevents Oklahomans from having to violate their moral beliefs if they purchase health insurance.”
“Oklahomans who believe in the sanctity of life should not be forced to indirectly subsidize the abortion industry.”
The legislation, if it becomes law, is expected to take effect on November 1.
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 showing 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.
“The neural pathways are present for pain to be experienced quite early by unborn babies,” explains Steven Calvin, M.D., perinatologist, chair of the Program in Human Rights Medicine, University of Minnesota, where he teaches obstetrics.
ACTION: Contact Governor Falin at https://www.ok.gov/triton/contact.php?ac=247&id=223 and urge her to sign the bills.