Way to Supreme Court Opened by Lower Court Decision on Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act


WASHINGTON – A federal district court decision against the Idaho Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act issued March 7, 2013, opens the way to an ultimate consideration by the United States Supreme Court whether mounting medical evidence that unborn children are capable of feeling pain supports a compelling state interest allowing protection of such children from abortion.

“Unborn children jerk away from painful stimuli, their stress hormones increase, and they require anesthesia before any fetal surgery,” said Mary Spaulding Balch, J.D., director of state legislation for the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC)

Idaho is one of eight states that have enacted legislation to protect unborn children capable of feeling pain from abortion, but the only one whose law has to date been challenged in federal court.

“We have always recognized that it will take a decision by the Supreme Court to allow expanded protection of unborn children capable of feeling pain, and there are strong indications that five of the sitting Justices would look with sympathy on a law providing such protection,” Balch said. “The next step will be an appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, followed, after its decision, by a request to the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.”

A major legislative priority of the National Right to Life Committee, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act first made headlines in 2010 when the Nebraska legislature became the first to enact the bill into law. The legislation breaks new ground in the fight to protect mothers and their unborn children by acknowledging the large body of scientific evidence showing that unborn children are capable of feeling excruciating pain by at least 20 weeks after fertilization and recognizing that states have compelling interest to protect these pain-capable unborn children. Further documentation and links to the scientific studies can be found at:www.doctorsonfetalpain.com.

Founded in 1968, National Right to Life, the federation of 50 state right-to-life affiliates and more than 3,000 local chapters, is the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots pro-life organization. Recognized as the flagship of the pro-life movement, NRLC works through legislation and education to protect innocent human life from abortion, infanticide, assisted suicide and euthanasia.