Unborn Children Suffer Pain

Yesterday, at a press conference I held on Capitol Hill, I called on my colleagues in the House to support the "Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act" when it comes up for a vote tomorrow.  The "Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act," which I authored, requires that a woman considering an abortion is informed of the intense pain her baby would feel during an abortion and that she is offered the option to reduce the pain inflicted on the unborn baby through anesthesia.

This is a modest but necessary expansion of informed consent.  To date several states have enacted informed consent provisions.  For example Louisiana makes a brochure about fetal development available to women seeking an abortion.  Our legislation simply ensures information concerning pain is conveyed to her.

The "Unborn Pain Awareness Act" requires abortion providers to inform women requesting an abortion when their baby is 20 weeks or more past fertilization that there is substantial evidence that babies at this stage of development do feel pain.  If a woman still decides to have an abortion, she would then sign a consent form indicating that she has received the requisite information and indicating whether or not she has requested anesthesia for the unborn child. 

During the press conference, I pointed out that the partial-birth abortion ban trials have drawn new attention to the pain that unborn children feel during an abortion.  In expert testimony during those trials, Dr. Kanwaljeet Anand, Director of the Pain Neurobiology Lab at the Arkansas Children's Hospital Research Institute explained, "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 that that perceived by term newborns or older children."

The recent partial-birth abortion trials have shattered, hopefully forever, the big lie that somehow the unborn child does not suffer during an abortion.  Now that this myth has been shattered, women deserve-at the very least-to be given information about the pain their child feels.  As a result some may even reconsider and allow the child to continue living.

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