West Virginia State House Passes Ban on Abortions After 20 Weeks

State   Steven Ertelt   Feb 11, 2015   |   4:20PM    Charleston, WV

The West Virginia state House today passed a bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks by an 87-12 margin. The vote came on the same day West Virginians for Life held a rally at the state capitol.

More than 18,000 ‘very late term’ abortions are performed every year on perfectly healthy unborn babies in America.

David Perry (D-WV) has reintroduced the bill into the West Virginia Legislature. Delegate Perry told WOWK-TV, “I feel very confident that the bill will pass this session. Whether the governor signs it into law or not, one thing I think we have this year is we have the ability to override his veto.”

Last summer, the West Virginia legislature passed a 20-week abortion ban on abortion by overwhelming bipartisan margins.

After its passage, the President of West Virginians For Life (WVFL), Wanda Franz, said, “The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act will protect West Virginia’s unborn babies, who can feel pain, and asserts a compelling state interest in protecting the unborn child from pain. Scientific research demonstrates that unborn babies can feel pain beginning by at least 20 weeks after conception. It is important that West Virginia has asserted its legitimate concern for the well-being of these innocent babies by protecting them from pain.”

However, their “pro-life” governor vetoed the legislation because he claimed it was unconstitutional. This shocked most pro-life West Virginians because during Gov. Tomblin’s gubernatorial campaign he said he was pro-life.

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, H.B. 2568, was introduced in the West Virginia House of Delegates last week by Kelli Sobonya. Co-sponsors of the bill include Lynne Arvon, Saira Blair, Anna Border, Jeff Eldridge, Paul Espinosa, Kayla Kessinger, Ricky Moye, Ruth Rowan, Amy Summers, and Terry Waxman.

Following a public hearing, the bill was sent to the House Health Committee. Specialists taking positions on both sides of the bill were available to answer the questions of committee members. Dr. Michael Rollins, Obstetrics and Gynecology, addressed the questions relating to the research and his experiences as a private practitioner, who has delivered over 1,000 babies over his 30-year career.

Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee says several states have already passed the bill and a federal version is pending in Congress.

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 Congressional hearing on the federal bill, 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 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 horrific procedures such as those that involve limb detachment or cardiac injection.”