Trials Serve as Impetus for Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act

Posted: August 11, 2005
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Responding to shocking testimony being given in court cases challenging the Partial Birth Abortion Ban, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) are sponsoring the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act.

May 25, 2004
Volume 1, Number 42

Responding to shocking testimony being given in court cases challenging the Partial Birth Abortion Ban, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) are sponsoring the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act.

The bill would require that before obtaining an abortion 20 or more weeks into a pregnancy, doctors must inform the mothers that the unborn baby will likely experience pain and the doctor must provide the mother with a pamphlet giving her more information on research on fetal pain. The bill would also require that doctors give mothers the option of providing their unborn babies with anesthetic prior to the abortion.

During recent testimony in a New York court case challenging the recently passed Partial Birth Abortion Ban, abortionist Dr. Marilynn Fredriksen avoided answering whether or not she informs her clients that the unborn baby will feel pain by replying tartly, "I have never talked to a fetus about whether or not they experience pain." In that same trial Dr. Timothy Johnson was asked if the question of fetal pain ever "crosses your mind" during an abortion. He answered no, eliciting an incredulous response from New York District Court Judge Richard Conway Casey.

At a May 20 press conference Brownback said it was the "callous and indifferent" testimony of doctors like Fredriksen and Johnson that convinced him the Child Pain bill was needed. Smith agreed and added, "Now the testimony is overwhelming. These children suffer, and they suffer badly."

In expert testimony provided to the Northern District of the US District Court in California on April 15, Dr. Sunny Anand, Director of the Pain Neurobiology Laboratory at Arkansas Children's Hospital Research said, "The highest density of pain receptors per square inch of skin in human development occurs in utero from 20 to 30 weeks gestation. During this period, the epidermis is still very thin, leaving nerve fibers closer to the surface of the skin than in older neonates and adult. . . . Thus, a fetus at 20-32 weeks of gestation would experience a much more intense pain than older infants or children or adults . . ."

Smith observed that other sentient creatures are given the protection of the government from excessive pain. "Congress requires pain to be minimized when livestock are slaughtered, and has numerous provisions to prevent pain to laboratory animals, but nothing for unborn human beings," he said.

Several organizations immediately endorsed the bill including the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Executive Director Gail Quinn said that because of "compelling testimony provided at the partial birth abortion trials . . . this bill is urgently needed." The bill also received the backing of Southern Baptist Convention, the National Right to Life Committee and the Family Research Council. NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson said the bill was important for dispelling the myth that anesthetics given to mothers having abortions also affected the unborn baby. "Both boards of anesthesiologist said that such claims were nonsense," he said.

The bill immediately received considerable support from other members of congress. There are already 28 co-sponsors to the house version and 24 senators, almost a quarter of the entire Senate, have added their names to the list of co-sponsors.