The Kansas House and Senate is to be applauded for passage of HB 2218, the Pain-capable Unborn Child Protection Act.
This is historic and sound legislation that is already law in Nebraska without court challenge. HB 2218 asserts Kansas has a compelling interest in protecting the pain-capable unborn child at 22 weeks gestation (20 weeks post-fertilization).
In a document accepted as expert by a federal court, Dr. Kanwaljeet (Sunny) Anand, arguably the world’s foremost pain researcher, said, “It is my opinion that the human fetus possesses the ability to experience pain from 20 weeks of gestation, if not earlier, and that pain perceived by a fetus is possibly more intense than that perceived by newborns or older children.” The explanation is that the human unborn child,
between 20-30 weeks gestation, has more surface pain receptors per square inch than any other time in life, while the system of pain suppression is not operating fully until 40 week gestation–or after!
At the time of the Roe v Wade ruling, our understanding of pain was so primitive that newborns undergoing surgery did so without anesthesia, or pain medication, receiving only a paralytic to keep them immobile!
The unborn child did not exist as a patient in the early 70’s. In the late 70’s ultrasound gave a ‘window to the womb’ and in the 80’s neonatology and fetal anesthesiology became medical specialties.
Written and oral testimony to the House Federal State Affairs and the Senate Judiciary committees came from conferees who spoke from their professional capacities about how medicine has advanced in recognizing the pain sensitivities of unborn children and their same-aged ‘born’ counterparts.
As one pediatrician conferee reminded, babies are not born with an on/off switch for their central nervous system that becomes active suddenly at full-term birth. Babies in the womb are the same, developmentally, as those prematurely delivered and sustained in hospital NICU wards, where the infants are assessed using an industry-standardized Premature Infant Pain Profile.
The medical staff evaluates pain in these nonverbal premature infants by changes in oxygenation, heart rate, facial grimacing, and recoiling. Those preemies who have to endure the discomfort of ventilators, tubes, wound dressings and IV lines are kept on opioid pain medication and sedatives.
Abortion supporters have a tissue-thin defense:
- one discredited article in the Journal of American Medical Ass’n, written by abortion activists (bias not disclosed upon publication), and
- a statement based on that same article, from the American College of Obstetricians/Gynecologists (ACOG), arguing that pain cannot be felt in the unborn until the third trimester.
ACOG must be in denial about what is happening in medicine daily, or else they think millions of health care dollars are being wasted paying for NICU facilities with pain medication for preemies, and for intrauterine surgery with anesthesia for unborn children.
ACOG chooses to ignore many hundreds of legitimate journals that continue to document the unborn’s pain-capability, starting with the New England Journal of Medicine where Dr. Anand’s ground-breaking review, “Pain in the neonate and fetus,” was published in 1987.
ACOG’s holding that a functioning cerebral cortex is necessary for pain perception is a discarded concept. Substantial evidence indicates that children born missing the bulk of the cerebral cortex, those with hydranencephaly, nevertheless experience pain. (see documentation here and here.).
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that state and federal legislatures have wide discretion to pass legislation in areas where there is medical and scientific uncertainty.
Decades ago, a movie ‘the Silent Scream’ was made, using ultrasound technology to show a first trimester unborn child trying to evade the abortion instruments. Ongoing medical investigation has only proven how apropos that title was — that abortion inflects horrible, unimaginable torture on tiny humans.
Our state prohibits the inhumane treatment of animals; it is only reasonable to extend the same courtesy to tiny humans in the womb.