Missouri is one step closer to protecting pain-capable unborn babies after the House moved forward with a bill to ban abortions at 20 weeks.
The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.B. 1266) received House lawmakers’ initial approval Monday, Missourinet reports. The bill prohibits abortions after 20 weeks except when there is a risk to the mother’s life or loss of a major bodily function.
The state House must vote again before the bill can move to the state Senate.
State Rep. Donna Lichtenegger, a Republican from Jackson who is sponsoring the bill, urged lawmakers to support the bill and protect nearly fully formed unborn babies who are capable of feeling 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 during a committee hearing in January.
Abortion activists with NARAL and Planned Parenthood claimed the bill is unconstitutional. According to Missourinet, they also made eugenic arguments for late-term abortions, saying “if there’s an issue with the development of the fetus, it is more humane to allow it to be aborted painlessly instead of being born into a short life of pain.”
However, there is strong scientific evidence that unborn babies feel excruciating pain when they are aborted.
Many researchers point to evidence that unborn babies can feel pain by 20 weeks, if not 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.
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Dr. Colleen A. Malloy, a professor of neonatology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, told a U.S. Senate committee in 2016 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.
About 20 states already have 20-week abortion bans in place. These laws 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.
A federal 20-week abortion ban failed to pass the U.S. Senate in January because there were not enough votes to overcome pro-abortion Democrats’ filibuster.