Several pro-life leaders are urging members of Congress to vote in favor of the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act (H.R. 6099), which is likely to come up for a vote Wednesday.
National director for Priests for Life, Fr. Frank Pavone, says children in the womb should be given at least the same consideration as animals that are up for slaughter.
“The laws of this country require measures to minimize pain in animals that are slaughtered, but offer no pain relief for unborn children who are dismembered by abortion. By what standard of human decency do we allow this contradiction?” the priest said in a statement.
The bill was introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-New Jersey). It would require abortionists to inform their patients who are aborting children older than 20 weeks that their unborn babies at 20 weeks will experience severe pain from being aborted. The measure also requires abortion practitioners to offer the mother a chance to give the baby anesthesia beforehand.
“Mothers have the right to be informed about the severe pain their unborn babies will feel from being aborted. By the 20th week of pregnancy, the baby will feel even greater pain than the mother. Sadly, this information is rarely communicated to women who are choosing whether their baby will live. This legislation would help women with the necessary medical knowledge to make a rational decision with lasting consequences,” said Concerned Women for America president Wendy Wright.
Senator Sam Brownback (R-Ks.) has also urged members of Congress to vote for the bill. In a Dec. 1 press release, the Republican senator pledged to “seek unanimous consent that the Senate take up and pass this critical piece of legislation" is the bill is passed in the House of Representatives.
The House will consider the bill under the "Suspension Calendar" which means the legislation needs a two-thirds vote in order to pass.
Dr. Kanwaljeet Anand, professor of pediatrics, anesthesiology, pharmacology and neurobiology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences is the recognized expert on fetal pain.
"The available scientific evidence makes it possible, even probable, that fetal pain perception occurs well before late gestation," he wrote in the May 2006 issue of Pain, a medical journal.
"Our current understanding of development provides the anatomical structures, the physiological mechanisms and the functional evidence for pain perception developing in the second trimester, certainly not in the first trimester, but well before the third trimester of human gestation," he explained.
Pro-life organizations are strongly supporting the bill with the hope that the national debate on it will change minds and that the measure's provisions will prompt some women to reconsider a late-term abortion.
National Right to Life legislative director Douglas Johnson pointed to a Zogby poll conducted in April 2004 showing that 77 percent of Americans strongly support this kind of legislation.