Oklahoma Gov. Signs Fetal-Pain Abortion Ban, Obamacare Funding Ban

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 20, 2011   |   5:34PM   |   Oklahoma City, OK

Oklahoma became the fourth state to enact legislation that protects from abortion unborn children who are capable of feeling pain and it becomes the latest of several to stop funding abortions under the Obamacare law.

At a bill-signing ceremony today, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed into law two pro-life bills:  HB 1888, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, and SB 547, the Abortion-Is-Not-Health-Care bill.

Oklahoma joins Kansas and Idaho this year, and Nebraska last year in passing the measure to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on the scientific evidence showing unborn children are capable of feeling pain. Today, the an Alabama Senate committee held a hearing today on a similar measure that has already passed that state’s House of Representatives.

”Modern medical science provides substantial compelling evidence that unborn children recoil from painful stimuli, that their stress hormones increase when they are subjected to any painful stimuli, and that they require anesthesia for fetal surgery,” said Mary Spaulding Balch, an attorney who is the director of state legislation for the National Right to Life Committee. “Therefore, the states have a compelling interest in protecting unborn children who are capable of feeling pain from abortion. Oklahoma is the fourth state to recognize this obligation by enacting the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.”

Earlier today, LifeNews reported on the comments from one top pro-abortion legal group, which has said it does not plan to challenge the fetal pain abortion bans in court, as pro-life groups expected and hoped they would do. Pro-life organizations believe the new late abortion bans can help the Supreme Court chip away further at Roe v. Wade by extending its decision supporting a national ban on partial-birth abortions even further.

As drafted by National Right to Life’s state legislation department, the model Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act protects from abortion unborn children who are capable of feeling pain except when the mother “has a condition which so complicates her medical condition as to necessitate the abortion of her pregnancy to avert death or to avert serious risk of substantial or irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function or…it is necessary to preserve the life of an unborn child.”

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

Meanwhile, SB 547 prohibits coverage for elective abortions under health-insurance plans in Oklahoma and, as Balch said, “affirms the principle that abortion is not health care, and protects the conscience rights of pro-life premium payers so they’re not complicit in the killing of unborn children.”

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.

Tony Lauinger, the chairman of Oklahomans for Life, commented Governor Fallin and top legislators who moved the measures to the governor.

”We commend Representative Pam Peterson, Senator Clark Jolley, and Governor Mary Fallin for their actions in protecting unborn children and helping their mothers through enactment of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” 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 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.

Further documentation and links to the scientific studies can be found at: www.doctorsonfetalpain.com.

ACTION: Contact Governor Falin at https://www.ok.gov/triton/contact.php?ac=247&id=223 and thank her for signing the bills.