Congress Must Protect Unborn Children From Painful Late-Term Abortions

Opinion   |   Congressman Chris Smith   |   Aug 28, 2013   |   12:13PM   |   Washington, DC

Pain. We all dread it. Avoid it. Even fear it. And we all go to extraordinary lengths to mitigate its severity and duration.

There are Kermit Gosnells all over America today inflicting not only violence, cruelty and death on very young children—but excruciating pain as well.

Many Americans—including some who self-identify as pro-choice— were shocked and dismayed by the Gosnell exposé and trial. Perhaps the decade’s long culture of denial and deceptive marketing has made it difficult to see and understand a disturbing reality. Even after forty years of abortion on demand—and over 55 million dead babies and millions of wounded mothers—many, until Gosnell, somehow construed abortion as victimless and painless.

That has changed. There are two victims in every abortion—the mother and her unborn child. Three if twins are involved.

The brutality of severing the spines of defenseless babies—euphemistically called “snipping” by Gosnell—has finally peeled away the benign façade of the billion dollar abortion industry. …

Like Gosnell, abortionists all over America decapitate, dismember, and chemically poison babies to death each and every day. That’s what they do. Americans are connecting the dots and asking whether what Gosnell did is really any different than what other abortionists do. A D&E abortion—a common method after 14 weeks—is a gruesome, pain-filled act that literally rips and tears to pieces the body parts of a child.

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is a modest but necessary attempt to at least protect babies who are 20 weeks old—and pain-capable—from having to suffer and die from abortion.

A majority of Americans, including and especially women, support what we are trying to do. According to the Gallup poll, 64% of Americans believe that abortion should not be permitted in the second three months of pregnancy. 80% say abortion should not be permitted in the last three months of pregnancy. The Polling Company found that 63% of women believe that abortion should not be permitted after the point where substantial medical evidence says that the unborn child can feel pain.

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act recognizes the medical evidence that unborn children feel pain. One leading expert in the field of fetal pain, Dr. Kanwaljeet S. Anand at the University of Tennessee, stated in his expert report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Justice, “It is my opinion that the human fetus possesses the ability to experience pain from 20 weeks of gestation, if not earlier, and the pain perceived by a fetus is possibly more intense than that perceived by term newborns or older children.”

Surgeons entering the womb to perform corrective procedures on unborn children have seen those babies flinch, jerk and recoil from sharp objects and incisions. Ultrasound technology shows unborn babies at 20 weeks post-fertilization and earlier react physically to outside stimuli such as sound, light and touch.

Surgeons routinely administer anesthesia to unborn children in the womb before performing lifesaving surgeries, and this has been associated with a decrease in the baby’s stress hormone levels during the medical procedure.

Dr. Colleen A. Malloy, Assistant Professor, Division of Neonatology at Northwestern University in her testimony before the House Judiciary Committee in May 2012 said, “[w]hen we speak of infants at 22 weeks LMP [Note: this is 20 weeks post fertilization], for example, we no longer have to rely solely on inferences or ultrasound imagery, because such premature patients are kicking, moving, reacting, and developing right before our eyes in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.”

“In today’s medical arena, we resuscitate patients at this age and are able to witness their ex-utero growth and development. Medical advancement and technology have enabled us to improve our ability to care for these infants…In fact, standard of care for neonatal intensive care units requires attention to and treatment of neonatal pain,” Dr. Malloy testified. She continued, “[t]hus, the difference between fetal and neonatal pain is simply the locale in which the pain occurs. The receiver’s experience of the pain is the same. I could never imagine subjecting my tiny patients to horrific procedures such as those that involve limb detachment or cardiac injection.” Note: Congressman Chris Smith is a Republican from New Jersey and the head of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus. These remarks were delivered during the debate over the bill this summer.