Missouri lawmakers listened Tuesday as a woman held her infant son and told them not to ban late-term abortions.
She was one of several abortion activists and pro-life advocates who testified about a bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks during a Missouri House hearing, the Columbia Missourian reports.
The legislation, state House Bill 1266, sponsored by state Rep. Donna Lichtenegger, R-Jackson, would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks when unborn babies are capable of feeling intense pain.
“If a nervous system is fully functional, it feels pain, so that’s why we are wanting to not have an abortion after 20 weeks,” Lichtenegger said, citing a strong body of scientific evidence.
But abortion activists came out in force to protest the bill. Rachel Goldberg, of Urbana, testified against the bill while holding her six-month old son, Ollie.
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Goldberg said she had a late-term abortion in 2015 after another one of her children, an unborn son, was diagnosed with a fetal anomaly at 20 weeks of pregnancy, according to the local news. Reports do not mention if Goldberg explained any specifics about her son’s diagnosis.
“My biggest fear since hearing that there was something wrong with our son at my 20-week ultrasound is that someone would make him suffer, and that someone would force him to suffer for their own beliefs that had nothing to do with, or weren’t grounded in, medical research,” Goldberg said.
She said she had an abortion at 26 weeks of pregnancy in Colorado.
Goldberg said she did not want her unborn son to suffer, but there is a strong body of research indicating that her child did experience excruciating pain when he was aborted in her womb. At the 26-week mark, even prominent pro-abortion researchers admit unborn babies can feel pain.
However, many researchers point to evidence that unborn babies can feel pain much earlier. Researchers have fully established fetal pain at 20 weeks, though some say the capability of feeling pain may begin as early as 8 weeks.
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 unborn pain.
At 20 weeks, the unborn child has all the parts in place – the pain receptors, spinal cord, nerve tracts, and thalamus – needed for transmitting and feeling pain. The unborn child responds to touch as early as week 6; and by week 18, pain receptors have appeared throughout the child’s body.
Dr. Colleen A. Malloy, a professor of neonatology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, told a U.S. Senate committee last year that “anesthesiologists, and surgeons use pain medication” for unborn babies at the 20-week stage when performing surgery, “because it’s supported by the literature completely.”
“I could never imagine subjecting my tiny patients to a horrific procedure such as those that involve limb detachment or cardiac injection,” Malloy added.
Currently, 16 states have pain-capable unborn child protection laws in effect, Kentucky being the most recent. A federal bill failed to pass the U.S. Senate Monday because there were not enough votes to overcome pro-abortion Democrats’ filibuster.
Together, these laws potentially are saving thousands of babies from painful, late-term abortions. There were at least 5,770 late-term abortions at or after 21 weeks of pregnancy in 2013 in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control. Another approximate 8,150 abortions took place between 18 weeks and 20 weeks, the CDC reports.