To take action in support of this
The following letter was sent to members
of the U.S. House of Representatives on November 27, 2006,
regarding a vote expected to occur on the House floor during
the week of December 4. For further information, send
e-mail to the NRLC Federal Legislation Department at
Legfederal@aol.com, or visit the NRLC website at
Please forward this e-mail to any
November 27, 2006
Dear Member of Congress:
We understand that during the week of
December 4, the House of Representatives will consider H.R.
6099, the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act, on the Suspension
The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC)
urges you to support this important legislation. We expect
to include this roll call in our
scorecard of key votes for the 109th Congress.
The Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act
recognizes that under the legal policy imposed by the U.S.
Supreme Court in cases such as Roe v. Wade and Stenberg v. Carhart, in the United States unborn
children are subjected to trauma through abortion that
causes them excruciating pain, which would be illegal if
inflicted on animals in commerce or research.
This bill would require every abortionist to
provide, whenever a woman seeks an abortion past 20 weeks
after fertilization, information about the capacity of her
unborn child to experience pain during the abortion. After
that, the woman would either request or refuse (by signing a
form) the administration of pain-reducing drugs directly to
the unborn child. The woman's decision regarding such drugs
is entirely voluntary. The bill would apply to all
abortions past 20 weeks, regardless of the method used.
The Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act also
contains a number of proposed congressional findings
regarding the scientific evidence that unborn children would
experience great pain during abortions by 20 weeks. The
findings cite a number of existing federal laws that seek to
diminish the suffering of animals, such as restrictions on
how livestock are slaughtered and restrictions on the use of
animals in medical research.
H.R. 6099 is a recently introduced revision
of the original Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act, H.R. 356.
Unlike the original, the new version does not require that
the abortion provider read a script, but instead relies
mostly upon a brochure to be prepared by the Department of
Health and Human Services, and a decision form for the woman
seeking the abortion. The new version also removes the
previous mandatory revocation of medical licenses for
violations, while retaining civil remedies (neither version
contained any criminal penalties).
(Regarding the original, more sweeping
version, NARAL said in January 2005, "Pro-choice Americans
have always believed that women deserve access to all the
information relevant to their reproductive health decisions.
For some women, that includes information related to fetal
anesthesia options. NARAL Pro-Choice America does not intend
to oppose this legislation.")
In a Zogby poll conducted in April 2004, the
public supported "laws requiring that women who are 20 weeks
or more along in their pregnancy be given information about
fetal pain before having an abortion" by a 77-16 percent
Congress took note of the pain inflicted by
partial-birth abortion in the findings contained within the
Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act (Public Law 108-105), as
The vast majority of babies
killed during partial-birth abortions are alive until
the end of the procedure. It is a medical fact,
however, that unborn infants at this stage can feel pain
when subjected to painful stimuli and that their
perception of this pain is even more intense than that
of newborn infants and older children when subjected to
the same stimuli. Thus, during a partial-birth abortion
procedure, the child will fully experience the pain
associated with piercing his or her skull and sucking
out his or her brain.
In order to evaluate that congressional
finding, expert testimony from both sides was heard in a
2004 trial held in the U.S. District Court for the Southern
District of New York, as part of a legal challenge to the
law brought by the National Abortion Federation and the
ACLU. In his ruling issued on August 26, U.S. District
Judge Richard C. Casey summarized this testimony as follows:
A D&X procedure [partial-birth
abortion] may subject fetuses beyond twenty weeks'
gestational age to "prolonged and excruciating pain."
Because the density of receptors is greater in the fetal
skin at about twenty weeks of gestation, and because the
mechanisms that inhibit and modulate the perception of
pain do not develop until after thirty-two to
thirty-four weeks' gestation, there was testimony that a
fetus likely feels severe pain while the procedure is
being performed. . . When questioned about whether they
spoke to their patients about fetal pain, Plaintiffs'
answers ranged from uncertainty about whether fetuses
feel pain to a lack of caring on the matter. . . . Most
of Plaintiffs' experts acknowledged that they do not
describe to their patients what the D&E and D&X
[partial-birth abortion] procedures entail in clear and
After evaluating the pertinent expert
testimony from all sides, Judge Casey made certain formal
"findings of fact," among these:
The Court finds that the testimony at
trial and before Congress establishes that D&X
[partial-birth abortion] is a gruesome, brutal,
barbaric, and uncivilized medical procedure. Dr. [Kanwaljeet]
Anand's testimony, which went unrebutted by Plaintiffs,
is credible evidence that D&X abortions subject fetuses
to severe pain. Notwithstanding this evidence, some of
Plaintiffs' experts testified that fetal pain does not
concern them, and that some do not convey to their
patients that their fetuses may undergo severe pain
during a D&X.
(To read the report submitted to the court
by Dr. Anand -- an internationally recognized expert on the
subject -- click
Despite these and other damning findings
regarding partial-birth abortion, Judge Casey ruled that the
Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act could not be enforced because
he said it conflicted with the Supreme Court's 5-to-4 ruling
in Stenberg v. Carhart (2000). The U.S. Supreme
Court is currently considering whether to allow the
Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act to go into effect. In the
meantime, however, Congress can and should act to prevent,
to the extent possible, terrible suffering from being
inflicted on unborn children by partial-birth abortion and
"D&E" procedures that dismember them by brute force
while they are still alive. H.R. 6099 would be a worthwhile
step in that direction.
The Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act has been
endorsed by the Family Research Council, the Christian
Medical Association, the Southern Baptist Convention (Ethics
and Religious Liberty Commission), and Concerned Women for
America, among others.
A great deal of additional documentation
regarding fetal pain is available on the NRLC website here:
Thank you for your consideration of our
position on this vital legislation.
NRLC Legislative Director
To take action in support of this bill, click
To return to the
Pain of the Unborn Index, click