In February, the Pennsylvania Senate passed a bill to prohibit abortions after 20 weeks when strong scientific evidence indicates unborn babies can feel pain. The bill also would prohibit brutal dismemberment abortions, commonly performed in the second trimester, which involve tearing apart the baby in the womb, limb by limb.While polls indicate public support for these limits, abortion activists like Lisa Perriera are working hard to keep these abortions legal in Pennsylvania.
An abortion practitioner at the Philadelphia Women’s Center, Perriera recently spoke with The Huffington Post about the legislation, calling pro-life lawmakers’ reasoning “malarkey.”
The liberal news outlet reports:
The legislation’s supporters argue that certain abortion procedures are “inhumane” and unsafe. They also say fetuses can feel pain by the 20-week mark, although medical research disputes that assertion.
Perriera, who also does advocacy work as a board member of the Women’s Law Project, a Pennsylvania-based women’s rights group, dismissed the logic of conservative lawmakers trying to justify abortion restrictions.
“These laws are always couched in the way that they are there to make things safer for women, and that is just malarkey,” she said.
Sari Stevens, Pennsylvania Planned Parenthood’s chief lobbyist, also blasted the pro-life legislation, claiming that pro-lifers are ignoring medical facts.
Perriera told the news outlet: “It is a safe medical procedure that I know how to do. If a woman is asking me to have a procedure, and that’s the right choice for her, who is a legislator to tell me that she shouldn’t be able to have that safe medical procedure?”
Abortion never is safe for the unborn child, however. And there is strong scientific evidence that unborn babies feel pain at 20 weeks or earlier, despite what abortion activists claim.
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Notably, a number of groups have pointed to serious ethical issues with the study abortion activists often use to claim unborn babies don’t feel pain until much later. Both the New York Times (“Study Authors Didn’t Report Abortion Ties”) and USA Today reported ethical issues with the study in 2005.
The science of fetal pain is well-established. Dr. Steven Zielinski, an internal medicine physician from Oregon, is one of the leading researchers into fetal pain. He first published reports in the 1980s to validate research showing evidence for unborn pain.
He testified before Congress in the past that an unborn child could feel pain at “eight-and-a-half weeks and possibly earlier” and that a baby before birth “under the right circumstances, is capable of crying.” Researchers also have found that unborn babies respond to touch as early as six weeks.
Dr. Colleen A. Malloy, a professor of neonatology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, told a U.S. Senate committee last year that “anesthesiologists, and surgeons use pain medication” for unborn babies at the 20-week stage, “because it’s supported by the literature completely.”
“I could never imagine subjecting my tiny patients to a horrific procedure such as those that involve limb detachment or cardiac injection,” Malloy added.
At 20 weeks, the unborn child has all the parts in place – the pain receptors, spinal cord, nerve tracts, and thalamus – needed for transmitting and feeling pain, extensive research indicates. The unborn child responds to touch as early as week 6; and by week 18, pain receptors have appeared throughout the child’s body.
“The thalamus, which is the center of pain consciousness in the brain, develops during weeks 8 through 16, and the nerve tracts connecting the spinal cord and thalamus are themselves in place by week 20,” said Randy O’Bannon of National Right to Life. “Like infants, the unborn child cannot speak and describe his or her pain experience, but there are the usual physiological indicators that indicate pain awareness.”
“As early as 18 weeks, an unborn child injected with a needle releases stress hormones, just as adults do when experiencing pain. Hormone levels in those babies decrease when pain-relievers are supplied,” he added. “Studies indicate that anencephalic infants, whose cortex is severely reduced if not altogether absent, experience pain as long as other neurological structures are functioning.”
In 2016, the Family Research Council published an extensively researched document on the science of fetal pain. The report includes more than 30 studies, testimonies, medical evidence and real-life experiences in its exposition of the science of fetal pain as the weeks advance post-fertilization.