Nebraska Legislature Approves Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act
WASHINGTON — By a vote of 44-5, the Nebraska Legislature this morning gave final passage to the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act introduced by Speaker Mike Flood. Governor Dave Heineman is expected to sign the bill in a ceremony this afternoon. The law will take effect on October 15, 2010.
“By 20 weeks after fertilization, unborn children have pain receptors throughout their body, and nerves link these to the brain,” said National Right to Life Director of State Legislation Mary Spaulding Balch, J.D. “These unborn children recoil from painful stimulation, which also dramatically increases their release of stress hormones. Doctors performing fetal surgery at and after 20 weeks now routinely use fetal anesthesia.”
For documentation, see www.doctorsonfetalpain.com/scientific-studies.
Spaulding Balch rebutted the claim by some that unborn children cannot feel pain until later in pregnancy when nerves reach the cerebral cortex. “Since 2007, medical research, triggered by the identification of consciousness in children lacking a cortex from birth, has indicated that nerve connection to the cortex is not essential to experience pain. In fact, informed specialists have concluded that the subcortical plate, to which nerves from the pain receptors are linking at 20 weeks, fulfills that function.”
A first of its kind in the United States, the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act prohibits abortion after 20 weeks gestation except when the mother “has a condition which so complicates her medical condition as to necessitate the abortion of her pregnancy to avert death or to avert serious risk of substantial or irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function or…it is necessary to preserve the life of an unborn child.”
The full text of the bill is available here:
“Although it will be a case of first impression,” Spaulding Balch asserted, “there are strong grounds to believe that five members of the current U.S. Supreme Court would give serious consideration to Nebraska’s assertion of a compelling state interest in preserving the life of an unborn child whom substantial medical evidence indicates is capable of feeling pain during an abortion.”
NRLC Director of State Legislation Mary Spaulding Balch, J.D., Senior Legislative Liaison Lori Kehoe, and Legislative Counsel Dorothy Yeung, J.D. are available to provide further comment and analysis. To arrange an interview, contact the NRLC Communications Department at (202) 626-8825.
The National Right to Life Committee is the nation’s largest pro-life group with affiliates in all 50 states and over 3,000 local chapters nationwide. National Right to Life works through legislation and education to protect those threatened by abortion, infanticide, euthanasia and assisted suicide.