Pro-life bill fails in vote by House

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Amy Fa­gan

House Repub­li­cans tried but failed to score one more goal for the pro-life com­mu­nity as the House on Dec. 6 fell short of the votes needed to pass a bill re­quir­ing doc­tors to in­form­wom­enseekingabor­tion­s­later in their preg­nan­cies that their un­born chil­dren can likely feel pain.

The bill didn’t gar­ner the twothirds ma­jor­ity it needed for ap­proval un­der a fast-track process. The bill failed 250-162, with Repub­li­cans vot­ing 210-9 for the bill, and Democrats op­pos­ing it by a 152-40 mar­gin. The House’s one in­de­pen­dent also op­posed it.

Sen.SamBrown­back,KansasRepub­li­can had pledged that if the House ap­proved it, he would try to force the Se­nate to vote on it this week­be­forelaw­mak­er­sad­journ,but aSe­nateRepub­li­can­lead­er­shipaide said Democrats would be able to block it.

Bill sup­port­ers said it’s still a vic­tory that a ma­jor­ity of House mem­bers are now on record in sup­port of agrow­ingmed­i­cal­truththatthe­abor­tion in­dus­try would rather ig­nore.

“This is not go­ing to go away,” said Rep. Christo­pher H. Smith, New Jer­sey Repub­li­can and spon­sor of the mea­sure. “The ev­i­dence is grow­ing, not di­min­ish­ing, that th­ese chil­dren feel pain.”

Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi, Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat, didn’t pres­sure her cau­cus to vote one way or the oth­eron­the­mea­sure.But­someDemocratsspoke­stronglya­gain­stit,ar­gu­ing it’s in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­cause the med­i­cal com­mu­nity hasn’t reached con­sen­sus on when and if the un­born feel pain.

“It’samis­take­toman­datethatthis be done when science is not clear,” saidRep.FrankPal­loneJr.,NewJersey Demo­crat.

Back­ers of the bill said it’s sim­ply about in­formed con­sent and noted there are even laws re­quir­ing ani- mals’ pain to be less­ened be­fore they’re slaugh­tered. “And we can’t raise up an un­born baby to this level?” asked Rep. Steve King, Iowa Repub­li­can.

Theleg­is­la­tion­woul­drequire­any doc­tor per­form­ing an abor­tion on a wo­man who is at least 20 weeks into her preg­nancy to first pro­vide her with in­for­ma­tion about the abil­ity of the un­born fe­tus to feel pain and of­fer to anes­thetize the fe­tus dur­ing the abor­tion.

The wo­man would be given a brochure from the De­part­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices that would read, in part, “There is a sig­nif­i­cant body of ev­i­dence that un­born chil­dren at 20 weeks af­ter fer­til­iza­tion have the phys­i­cal struc­tures nec­es­sary to ex­pe­ri­ence pain.” She could ac­cept or de­cline the fe­tal anes­the­sia op­tion. Doc­tors who don’t fol­low th­ese steps could face civil suits or fines of up to $100,000.

The mea­sure is op­posed by the Na­tional Abor­tion Fed­er­a­tion, but NARAL Pro-Choice Amer­ica has stayed neu­tral about it.

The Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion backs the bill and is­sued a state­ment say­ing: “Med­i­cal science has greatly im­proved our knowl­edge and un­der­stand­ing of fe­tal de­vel­op­ment in re­cent years, and preg­nant women should be fully in­formed of the facts.”

Bill sup­port­ers cite med­i­cal spe­cial­istswhotes­ti­fiedataHouse­hear­ing and in fed­eral court, in­clud­ing Dr. Sunny Anand, di­rec­tor of the Pain Neu­ro­bi­ol­ogy Lab at Arkansas Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal Re­search In­sti­tute, who said not only can the fe­tus feel pain at 20 weeks but “the pain per­ceived­byafe­tu­sis­pos­si­bly­more in­tense” than that of new­borns or older chil­dren.

Crit­ics point out that the Amer­i­can Col­lege of Ob­stet­rics and Gy­ne­col­ogy stated it “knows of no le­git­i­mate sci­en­tific data or in­for­ma­tion” sup­port­ing the state­ment that a fe­tus feels pain at 20 weeks.

Crit­ics have also cited a lit­er­a­ture re­view in the Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion that found it highly im­prob­a­ble that a fe­tus feels pain be­fore the third trimester.

ButMr.Smithandother­snotetwo au­thors of the re­view have clear con­nec­tion­stothe­pro-choice­move­men­tyet­failed­todis­clos­ethis.“Talk about con­flict of in­ter­est,” he said.

Getty Images

Sen. Sam Brown­back, Kansas Repub­li­can, had hoped the House would pass an abor­tion in­for­ma­tion bill so he could try to force a Se­nate vote.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.