South Carolina Panel OKs Pro-Life Bill to Ban Abortions After 20 Weeks on Babies Who Feel Pain

State   |   Holly Gatling, Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 28, 2015   |   11:57AM   |   Columbia, SC

By a bipartisan vote of 15-5, the S.C. House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H 3114) that protects the unborn child from savage and excruciating abortion at the beginning of the sixth month of life in the womb. The bill now goes to the full S.C. House for consideration.

In debating the bill, the chief sponsor Rep. Wendy Nanney, R-Greenville, said “We are talking about a baby that is starting its sixth month.”  She described a dismemberment abortion as “tearing [the baby] apart to get it out” and said, “I consider that inhumane.”

The bill creates a compelling state interest in protecting the life of an unborn child who can feel pain which scientific research establishes at 20-weeks after fertilization if not sooner.

Representative Donna Hicks, R-Spartanburg, noted that medical text books document the use of anesthesia on babies during fetal surgery. “If something has been put into a medical textbook and it is considered standard medical procedure, I think that is compelling evidence,” she said. She noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has held that states may create a state interest in the unborn child based on compelling evidence.


Those members of the House Judiciary Committee voting in favor of H 4113 were: Chairman Greg Delleney, R-Chester; Subcommittee Chairman Peter McCoy, R-Charleston; and Representatives Kirkman Finlay, R-Richland; Laurie Slade Funderburk, D-Kershaw; Stephen Goldfinch, R-Georgetown; Donna Hicks, R-Spartanburg, Jenny Horne, R-Dorchester; Ralph Shealy, R-Lexington; Walton McLeod, D-Newberry; Dennis Moss, R-Cherokee; Chris Murphy, R-Dorchester; Wendy Nanney, R-Greenville; Rick Quinn, R-Lexington; Eddie Tallon, R-Spartanburg; and Anne Thayer, R-Anderson.

Those voting against the bill were: Representatives Beth Bernstein, D-Richland, Joe McEachern, D-Richland, Todd Rutherford, D-Richland; James E. Smith Jr., D-Richland; and David Weeks, D-Sumter.

A 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.

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A November 2014 poll from Quinnipiac found that 60 percent of Americans support legislation limiting abortions after 20 weeks, including 56 percent of Independents and 46 percent of Democrats.

During a hearing on the federal version of the bill in Congress, 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 has provided further research to substantiate their work.

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.”

“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