by Steven Ertelt
November 27, 2006
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) -- The House of Representatives
will hold the first-ever vote next week on a measure that would
inform women considering an abortion after 20 weeks into
pregnancy that their baby will feel intense pain as a result of
The bill also requires abortion practitioners to offer the mother
a chance to give the baby anesthesia beforehand.
Rep. Chris Smith, a pro-life New Jersey Republican, is the lead
sponsor of the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act (H.R. 6099) and 93
members of the House have signed on as co-sponsors.
The measure came into existence following testimony in Congress
during debate on the federal partial-birth abortion ban as
witnesses testified that unborn children past 20 weeks from
fertilization feel excruciating pain during the course of an
The House will consider the bill under the "Suspension Calendar"
which means the legislation needs a two-thirds vote in order to
Whether the bill receives the necessary two-thirds vote,
consideration of the measure provides pro-life lawmakers the
first real chance to start a national discussion of the pain
babies feel during abortions.
A doctor who is considered the leading expert on fetal pain says
he has no doubt that babies have the capacity to feel intense
pain by the second trimester. In the third trimester of
pregnancy, he says the internal systems for feeling pain are
Dr. Kanwaljeet Anand of the University of Arkansas Medical Center
has confirmed that the baby's ability to feel pain before birth.
In a June interview with a Little Rock television station he said
an unbon child's ability to feel pain "will develop sometime
during the second trimester and by the third trimester the pain
system is completely functional.
Anand has said medical studies conclude that unborn babies are
"very likely" to be "extremely sensitive to pain during the
gestation of 20 to 30 weeks."
"This is based on multiple lines of evidence," Dr. Anand said.
"Not just the lack of descending inhibitory fibers, but also the
number of receptors in the skin, the level of expression of
various chemicals, neurotransmitters, receptors, and things like
Anand explained that later-term abortion procedures, such as a
partial-birth abortion, "would be likely to cause severe pain."
A British study conducted in April confirms Anand's explanation
about fetal pain.
Published in the Journal of Neuroscience by a team from
University College London, the study analyzed brain scans taken
on premature babies when blood was being drawn from them.
The results found that babies as young as 24 weeks after
pregnancy can feel pain and the researchers hope the study will
prompt new pain treatment methods.
Dr. Anand said causing an unborn child pain could have adverse
"Some fetuses that are chronically exposed to very toxic
environments will be stressed simply from the fact that they are
in these very loud, very difficult environments," he said.
"There's also this issue of abuse. Abuse of spouse pretty clearly
during pregnancy, and that will have an impact on the brain of
this fetus is developing and what is going to be this child's
behavior," he added.
ACTION: Contact your member of Congress and urge strong support
for the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act. You can call any member
at 1-202-224-3121 or go to http://www.house.gov/ to look up your
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