U.S. Senator Sam Brownback (R, Kan) must be a highly qualified ObGyn AND anaethesiologist. Otherwise, how else to explain what he wants every woman contemplating an abortion in this country to hear from her doctor:
“The Congress of the United States has determined that at this stage of development, an unborn child has the physical structures necessary to experience pain.”
—New York Times
It’s called the “Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act” and it also says there is “substantial evidence” of “substantial pain to an unborn child” during abortions performed after 20 weeks. Brownback hopes the bill will be enacted sometime next year.
I like that phrase, “The Congress of the United States has determined…”, it sounds so commanding, so official, so manly. But take a step back for a minute: who says that the “Congress of the United States” knows diddly about the medical status of an “unborn child?” Since when is the entire Congress a medical doctor? And what gives them the right to tell women what is medically valid?
In fact, the Times article points to a new study which states that fetuses do not feel pain until 29 weeks. The work is entitled, Fetal Pain: A Systematic Multidisciplinary Review of the Evidence (abstract) and its chief author is Dr. Mark A. Rosen. The main contention of the paper is ” nerve connections in the brain are unlikely to have developed enough for the fetus to feel pain before 29 weeks.”
Dr. [not!] Brownback backpedaled slightly when presented with the paper’s findings according to the Times:
[He] said the new report did not raise questions about whether a fetus felt pain, only about when. “The child in the womb does experience pain,” he said. “We knew there was a debate about at what age the child experiences pain.”
He said he would listen to debate and consider changing the fetal age specified in his legislation. But, he said, “We’re clearly going to stick with the bill.”
Well, yaaa. They feel pain, but not at 20 weeks, guy! So if Brownback does agree to up the fetal age to 29 weeks and the bill passes (Lord prevent that!) how many potential abortions will this impact? I don’t imagine very many are performed at 29 weeks, do you? So why bother wasting the time of all the highly qualified M.D.s sitting in Congress by asking them to declare their best medical judgment on this question??