New Jersey Legislators Push Bill Banning Late-Term Abortions After 20 Weeks

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Dec 6, 2016   |   6:56PM   |   Trentonm New Jersey

New Jersey state lawmakers urged passage of a bill on Monday to prohibit abortions after 20 weeks when unborn babies can feel pain.

Pro-life state lawmakers introduced the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (S2026) in April, but they held a press conference on Monday to draw attention to the bill.

New Jersey state Sen. Joseph Pennacchio, R-Morris, who co-introduced the bill with state Sen. Steve Oroho, R-Sussex, said lawmakers in New Jersey have given higher priority to protections for animals than they have for babies in the womb, according to NJ Advanced Media. Lawmakers mentioned a bill to ban cat declawing.

“This legislature takes great pride in advocating for all manner of living creatures, with the exception of innocent unborn children,” Pennacchio said. “Since when did animals become more important than unborn children?”

In a statement, Oroho added: “I believe the state has a compelling governmental interest in protecting the lives of unborn children from the stage at which substantial medical evidence indicates that they are capable of feeling pain. Our humanity is closely defined by how we treat those who are most vulnerable.”

Here’s more from the New Jersey Herald:

Others who joined the legislators on Monday included Michael Fragoso, who practiced pediatrics for 25 years, and Marie Tasy, executive director of New Jersey Right to Life.

Fragoso said that when he began working in pediatrics in 1980, saving a baby 28-30 weeks gestation was considered “heroic.”

“If we recognize that a baby born prematurely at 22 weeks can feel pain, why would that same baby not feel pain in the womb?” Fragoso said.

“That is why this legislation is so important, because it will protect babies in the womb beginning at this stage from experiencing the excruciating pain of abortion.”

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PIX News 11 reports it is unclear whether the bill could pass the Democrat-led legislature. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is pro-life.

Currently, 14 states have laws to protect pain-capable unborn babies from abortion after 20 weeks, according to the National Right to Life Committee.

A strong body of scientific evidence supports that unborn babies can feel pain by 20 weeks if not earlier. In 2015, the Family Research Council published an extensively researched document on the science of fetal pain. The report cites more than 30 scientific studies, testimonies, medical evidence, and real-life experiences in its exposition of the science of fetal pain as the weeks advance post-fertilization.

Dr. Steven Zielinski, an internal medicine physician from Oregon, is one of the leading researchers into fetal pain. He first published reports in the 1980s to validate research showing evidence for unborn pain.

He has testified before Congress in the past 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.” Researchers also have found that unborn babies respond to touch as early as six weeks.

He and his colleagues Dr. Vincent J. Collins and Thomas J. Marzen wrote, “The functioning neurological structures necessary to suffer pain are developed early in a child’s development in the womb.”