More than 100 members of the House have signed onto a federal bill that would require abortion providers to give women seeking abortions information on the unborn baby and the intense pain the baby experiences in the abortion process. Under the bill, the woman would also be offered the option to reduce the unborn baby’s pain through anesthesia.
U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R—NJ) introduced the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act last week.
“Expert testimony and scientific studies have shown that unborn children have the ability to feel pain from 20 weeks of gestation,” said Smith, who is co-chairman of the Bipartisan Pro-Life Caucus. “Abortion providers are aware of this information, which, I might add, is well-documented and continues to expand. There are no federal guidelines that require the provider to share this information with a woman seeking an abortion. This legislation would fill that void.”
Smith noted that a number of states have informed consent laws similar to this act, but there is no uniformity from state to state.
Smith first introduced the act in the 109th Congress and the House, under suspension of the rules, considered it in December 2006. While the bill gained a majority, it fell shy of the requisite number of votes for passage under this expedited process.
According to Smith, the partial-birth abortion ban trials leading up to the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the ban have drawn new attention to the pain that unborn children feel during an abortion.
In expert testimony during those trials, Dr. Kanwljeet Anand, director of the Pain Neurobiology Lab at the Arkansas Children's Hospital Research Institute, stated: “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 than that perceived by term newborns or older children."