Back in April, Nebraska’s governor, George Heineman, signed into law the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, making it illegal to perform abortions when pregnancies were beyond 20 weeks. Nebraska’s state legislature voted overwhelmingly in favor of the bill, 44-5. The law serves as a prototype of which many other states have taken note. The Kansas City Star reports that Lawmakers in Indiana, Iowa, and Kentucky have begun drafting bills similar to Nebraska’s law.
Kansas is another state that shows particular promise for implementing such a law with staunch social conservative Sam Brownback as it’s Governor-elect and pro-life majorities in both houses of its legislature.
A 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding a federal ban on certain late-term abortions opens the door for such legislation because it suggests states have an interest in protecting fetuses. Also, new studies and testimony from doctors prove fetuses feel pain at 20 weeks.
Dr. K.S. Anand of the university of Arkansas Medical Center, a pioneer in the study of fetal pain, testified in 2004 on the federal partial birth abortion ban that unborn babies are “very likely” to be “extremely sensitive to pain during the gestation of 20 to 30 weeks.”
“This is based on multiple lines of evidence,” Dr. Anand said. “Not just the lack of descending inhibitory fibers, but also the number of receptors in the skin, the level of expression of various chemicals, neurotransmitters, receptors, and things like that.”
Dr. Jean Wright, an anesthesiologist specializing in Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, has also confirmed the existence of fetal pain during Congressional testimony. “[A]n unborn fetus after 20 weeks of gestation, has all the prerequisite anatomy, physiology, hormones, neurotransmitters, and electrical current to close the loop and create the conditions needed to perceive pain. In a fashion similar to explaining the electrical wiring to a new house, we would explain that the circuit is complete from skin to brain and back,” she said.
As medical evidence of this nature continues to be unveiled, legislators will be forced to acknowledge the facts and produce laws that protect the unborn. Nebraska took the first steps in 2010, look for Kansas to lead the charge moving into 2011.