GOP wants law to define when fetuses feel pain

While they still can, House Republicans are looking at scheduling a vote next week on a fetal pain abortion bill in a parting shot at incoming majority Democrats and a last bid for loyalty from the GOP’s base of social conservatives.

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The bill, by Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, defines a 20-week-old fetus as a “pain-capable unborn child” — a highly controversial threshold among scientists. It also directs the Health and Human Services Department to develop a brochure stating “that there is substantial evidence that the process of being killed in an abortion will cause the unborn child pain.”

When fetuses can feel pain — versus a reflexive drawing back from stimuli — has been the subject of heated debate. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco last year reviewed dozens of studies and medical reports and said that fetuses likely are incapable of feeling pain until around the seventh month of pregnancy, when they are about 28 weeks old.

Who cares if the science actually supports it–just sign it into law and voila, it’s a fact! This is a whole new chapter in the Republican War on Science–legislate it instead of actually *doing* it, period. Impressive.

Comments

  1. #1 Craig Pennington
    December 1, 2006

    Well, that was the tactic in the federal Intact D&X ban. They decreed that Intact D&X was never medically necessary, thus there never need be any consideration of the specifics of any given case. Now we no longer need to look into the specific physiology of pain, we have been given the answer by politicians.

  2. #2 J-Dog
    December 1, 2006

    Unreal…In a classic case of life imitating art, this is eerily in sync with what the Onion wrote about in their latest issue, only in the Onion it was KS and they legislated against evolution. http://www.theonion.com/content/node/55807

  3. #3 howell
    December 1, 2006

    Eerily reminiscent of the infamous ketchup=vegetable legislative incident.

  4. #4 jeffk
    December 1, 2006

    Meh, who cares, pigs can feel pain too. And they’re delicious.

  5. #5 argystokes
    December 1, 2006

    Meh, who cares, pigs can feel pain too. And they’re delicious.

    Mmm, I’m talking real baby back ribs… dripping with sauce… falling off the bone

  6. #6 Miguelito
    December 1, 2006

    I’m surprised that they didn’t go with one week instead of twenty.

  7. #7 David
    December 1, 2006

    I can see several ways of looking at this. If they are so worried about inflicting unnecessary pain on living things, perhaps we need to rethink sport hunting and fishing as well. Especially catch-and-release sport fishing, since you can’t even claim that you’re doing it for food. Or maybe we should claim that any apparent pain is just collateral damage from the procedure. These people seem willing to accept innocent deaths when it’s called collateral damage.

    What really gets me is if they were interested in preventing abortion, the most effective way seems to be by providing people with the tools and education to not get pregnant in the first place. If they are not willing to help prevent unwanted pregnancy, they have no moral ground to stand on when it comes to abortion, because as far as I’m concerned, they are the ones responsible for many of the unwanted pregnancies and abortions.

  8. #8 Larry Fafarman
    December 2, 2006

    In late-term abortions, fetal pain can be prevented by euthanizing the fetus by lethal injection prior to removal.

    Also, stem-cell embryos obviously cannot feel pain, so what is the excuse for the unreasonable restrictions on federal funding of stem-cell research?

  9. #9 JanieBelle and Kate
    December 2, 2006

    Larry, quit trolling. Everybody knows who you are and what you’re up to.

  10. #10 W. Kevin Vicklund
    December 2, 2006

    Actually, for all of his lunacy, Larry has several times in the past said he is in favor of stem-cell research and accepts global warming as a real concern.

    Larry is a troll. This time, he didn’t troll.

  11. #11 JanieBelle and Kate
    December 3, 2006

    Well then my deepest and humblest apologies to Larry.

    I admit that with all the other wild and crazy stuff that he says, I assumed that Larry was looking for a juicy quote mine.

    I was wrong. I shall endeavor to be more circumspect in my appraisals in the future.

    Sorry, Larry. Forgive me?

  12. #12 Jane
    December 3, 2006

    “What really gets me is if they were interested in preventing abortion, the most effective way seems to be by providing people with the tools and education to not get pregnant in the first place. If they are not willing to help prevent unwanted pregnancy, they have no moral ground to stand on when it comes to abortion, because as far as I’m concerned, they are the ones responsible for many of the unwanted pregnancies and abortions.”

    Exactly. I was going to say this myself but would not have done it quite so succinctly.

  13. #13 John Freeland
    December 3, 2006

    Does anyone know at what point in fetal development brain waves are detectable? Insofar as the absence of brain waves (flat-line) plays a roll in defining “clinical death,” any “pain” stimulus prior to that point of development of brainwaves would not be perceived by the fetus. You think?

  14. #14 M. Randolph Kruger
    December 4, 2006

    Stimuili to pain? You can get the same reaction from an ameoba with a jolt of electricity. Frog legs jump too when juice is applied, but is the frog alive? Not all Republicans think this way Tara. My own personal belief is that as a guy I dont have to climb up on that table, nor should I tell a woman she cant have an abortion. Thats between her, God and her gyno.

    I will say one thing though and that is that at the point of viability a child should be allowed to go to full term. I think thats about 7.5 months now without having a child that is very deformed or with massive problems. We give doctors the tools and education to preserve life but we get into the habit of taking it. Viabilty in my mind should be the position that should be taken in my mind. If later on that means removing the child so it can grow up in alternative media other than the mothers womb, so be it. Plenty of people would pay for it now. If the woman doesnt want to be a mommy I dont think she should be forced to become one. What kind of mother would she make if she was forced into poverty along with a newborn and on the government dole? Generally lousy one is very likely and limit the opportunities that both would have.

  15. #15 M. Randolph Kruger
    December 4, 2006

    Stimuili to pain? You can get the same reaction from an ameoba with a jolt of electricity. Frog legs jump too when juice is applied, but is the frog alive? Not all Republicans think this way Tara. My own personal belief is that as a guy I dont have to climb up on that table, nor should I tell a woman she cant have an abortion. Thats between her, God and her gyno.

    I will say one thing though and that is that at the point of viability a child should be allowed to go to full term. I think thats about 7.5 months now without having a child that is very deformed or with massive problems. We give doctors the tools and education to preserve life but we get into the habit of taking it. Viabilty in my mind should be the position that should be taken in my mind. If later on that means removing the child so it can grow up in alternative media other than the mothers womb, so be it. Plenty of people would pay for it now. If the woman doesnt want to be a mommy I dont think she should be forced to become one. What kind of mother would she make if she was forced into poverty along with a newborn and on the government dole? Generally lousy one is very likely and limit the opportunities that both would have.

  16. #16 Tara C. Smith
    December 4, 2006

    Not all Republicans think this way Tara.

    Oh, I recognize that. But just because all Republicans don’t agree doesn’t make it any less of a Republican measure.

  17. #17 Jim51
    December 4, 2006

    Randolph,
    Viability is an interesting issue as it was used by Justice Blackmun in the Roe v Wade decision. The difficulty with it is that a viability date will move with advances in medical care and technology.
    Perhaps there is someone on this blog who can tell us what the difference is between viability in 1975 and viability today. My sense is that viability today is somewhat sooner than 7.5 months.
    My larger point is that while legislating a scientific issue is silly, so perhaps is a judicial decision regarding a scientific issue. Don’t get me wrong. I support Roe v Wade as a way to move forward on an issue where compromise is difficult but sooner or later I think that viability becomes problematic.

  18. #18 M. Randolph Kruger
    December 4, 2006

    Just as Roe V. Wade was Tara with the Dems. I fully supported the measure but it amazes me that the Rep. Party continues hammering away at this knowing full well that damned near every woman is going to vote against the MALE Republican candidate when they do. Dumb.

    Jim, Yep Blackmun was the one who did the “reach down” and pulled it up from the state courts. Doesnt happen often. 7.5 months I read though is the critical point for most children to be generally clear if they are in an incubator. Again, if they can keep it alive outside the derelection of duty (condoms) mother then they should take it and allow it to grow. I DONT think that the law extends into a womans uterus, some do though.. Again, there are all sorts of foundations that would pay for the process and upkeep until a suitable home could be found.

    Beyond social issues its now becoming a economic one. We are fast approaching ZPG and there arent enough of us to support them boomers.

  19. #19 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    December 5, 2006

    Bush’s new chief of family-planning programs at the Department of Health and Human Services Eric Keroack, was brought over from A Woman’s Concern. This group uses flawed and deceptive studies of fetal pain (as well as others) to steer woman away from choosing abortion. Now he’s advising Secretary Mike Leavitt on programs dealing with birth control, reproductive health and teen pregnancy.