Albuquerque Voters Defeat Measure Banning Late-Term Abortions After 20 Weeks

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 20, 2013   |   12:45AM   |   Albuquerque, NM

After a monumental battle that saw national pro-life groups and abortion supporters engage in a furious fight in the state of New Mexico, voters in Albuquerque today defeated the nation’s first city-wide ban on late-term abortions. Initial results from 50,000 early and absentee ballots showed 56 percent of voters against the proposal, while 44 percent supported the ban on most abortions after 20 weeks. The totals from voters casting ballots on election day didn’t change those percentages much and, with 40 of 50 precincts tallied, the vote remained 54-46 against the ban.

Some pro-life advocates are asserting the results are something of a moral victory because Planned Parenthood and other abortion advocates were forced to spend $1 million or more on defending late-term abortions, though pro-life groups also spent considerable sums of more meager resources.

The defeat of the ban may provide more ammunition for those pro-life groups that say ballot measures are not the best method of attempting to end or limit abortions. The Albuquerque late-term abortion ban joins multiple California ballot proposals, a limit on taxpayer funding of abortions in Oregon, and personhood amendments in Colorado and Mississippi in the losers bracket.

On the other hand, the loss comes at the same time the Texas law to limit abortions — which has already closed or halted abortions ant numerous abortion clinics — won another victory, this time at the Supreme Court. The results may go to show that focusing on electing pro-life candidates and passing pro-life laws in Congress and state legislatures are the more successful route to stopping abortions.

The ban, had it been approved, would have far-reaching effects, as it would prohibit the kind of abortions done at Southwestern Women’s Options, a notorious late-term abortion facility that kills unborn babies by shooting them through the heart with poison. It is considered the largest late-term abortion facility in the United States.

“It’s very troubling, very barbaric, very unnecessary procedure that the public needs to [talk] about,” said Elisa Martinez of Protect Albuquerque Women and Children.

Approval of the law will lead to a legal battle, though a liberal activist web site admits the late-term abortion ban will likely turn out to be constitutional. Life Legal Defense Foundation, a pro-life legal group, is preparing to defend any legal challenges that follow its passage.

The organization tells LifeNews it is uniquely positioned to shepherd the ordinance through any legal proceedings, having already defended the act against an attempt by Albuquerque City Council to prevent the matter from being included on the ballot.

“This municipal election is one that carries national import,” explained Life Legal Defense Foundation Executive Director Dana Cody, “because Albuquerque is home to the largest late-term abortion clinic in the nation.  If Albuquerque’s voters pass this ban, it can be read as a clear statement that they no longer wish to be known as America’s late-term abortion capital. The lawyers of Life Legal Defense Foundation are ready to protect that decision on their behalf.”

A recent national poll by The Polling Company found that, after being informed that there is scientific evidence that unborn children are capable of feeling pain at least by 20 weeks, 64% would support a law banning abortion after 20 weeks, unless the mother’s life was in danger.   Only 30% said they would oppose such a law.

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council puts the vote in context.

“Although the referendum is technically a local one, Albuquerque’s initiative would be felt throughout the whole country, since the city is home to some of America’s only late-term abortion providers. For too long, the city has been a destination for death, as moms travel near and far to take advantage of the area’s loose laws,” he said.

The bill is similar to Congressional legislation that would also ban abortions after 20 weeks — which the House has approved and is pending in the Senate.

During the hearing in the House, former abortion practitioner Anthony Levatino told members of the committee the gruesome details of his former abortion practice and how he became pro-life following the tragic automobile accident of his child.

Another bombshell dropped during the hearing came from Dr. Maureen Condic, who is Associate Professor of Neurobiology and Adjunct Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Utah School of Medicine. She testified that the unborn child is capable of reacting to pain as early as 8-10 weeks. This is when most abortions in America take place.

The bill relies on the science of fetal pain to establish a Constitutional reason for Congress to ban abortions late in pregnancy. 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.

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.”