Statement by Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas)

Statement by Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas)
From the Congressional Record, May 20, 2004, pages S5985-86


S. 2466. A bill to ensure that women seeking an abortion are fully informed regarding the pain experienced by their unborn child ; to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.   [Introduced] by Mr. BROWNBACK (for himself, Mr. ALEXANDER, Mr. BUNNING, Mr. BURNS, Mr. COLEMAN, Mr. CRAPO, Mr.DEWINE, Mr. ENSIGN, Mr. ENZI, Mr. FITZGERALD, Mr. GRAHAM of South Carolina, Mr. GRASSLEY, Mr.HATCH, Mr. KYL, Mr. MCCONNELL, Mr. MILLER, Mr. NICKLES, Mr. ROBERTS, Mr. SANTORUM, Mr.SESSIONS, Mr. SHELBY, Mr. TALENT, Mr. CHAMBLISS, and Mr. INHOFE).

Mr. BROWNBACK. Mr. President, I rise today to introduce the bipartisan Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act, and I am joined by 22 original cosponsors.

Unborn children can experience pain , and they can certainly respond to touch from outside the womb. Any woman who has been blessed with carrying a baby in the second trimester can tell you this.

I remember my own children kicking and squirming inside of my wife’s womb. And my wife certainly remembers feeling their kicks. That unborn child is very much alive. All along, women have been able to feel the child inside of them, but now, science is telling us what the child inside of his or her mother can feel.

Many among us are unaware of the scientific, medical fact that unborn children can feel, but it is true. Not only can they feel, but their ability to experience pain is heightened. The highest density of pain receptors per square inch of skin in human development occurs in utero from 20 to 30 weeks gestation.

An expert report on fetal development, prepared for the Partial Birth Abortion Ban trials, notes that while unborn children are obviously incapable of verbal expressions, we know that they can experience pain based upon anatomical, functional, physiological and behavioral indicators that are correlated with pain in children and adults.

Unborn children can experience pain . This is why unborn children are often administered anesthesia during in utero surgeries.

Think about the pain that unborn children can experience, and then think about the more gruesome abortion procedures. Of course, we have heard about Partial Birth Abortion, but also consider the D&E abortion. During this procedure, commonly performed after 20-weeks — when there is medical evidence that the child can experience severe pain — the child is torn apart limb from limb. Think about how that must feel to a young human.

We would never allow a dog to be treated this way. Yet, the creature we are talking about is a young, unborn child .

Fortunately, the issue of pain experienced by unborn children has been covered by the news media during the ongoing Partial Birth Abortion Ban trials. Take for instance an April 7, 2004 Associated Press news article covering the trials. And I quote: “A type of abortion banned under a new federal law would cause `severe and excruciating’ pain to 20-week-old fetuses, a medical expert testified yesterday ….. `I believe the fetus is conscious,’ said Dr. Kanwaljeet `Sonny’ Anand, a pediatrician at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences ….. said yesterday that fetuses show increased heart rate, blood flow, and hormone levels in response to pain . `The physiological responses have been very clearly studied,’ he said. `The fetus cannot talk ….. so this is the best evidence we can get.”

Today I introduce a bill that would require those who perform abortions on unborn children 20 weeks after fertilization to inform the woman seeking an abortion of the medical evidence that the unborn child feels pain : (a.) Through a verbal statement given by the abortion provider, and also (b.) by providing a brochure–developed by the Department of Health and Human Services–that goes into more detail than the verbal statement on the medical evidence of pain experienced by an unborn child 20 weeks after fertilization.

The bill would also ensure that the woman, if she chooses to continue with the abortion procedure after being given the medical information, has the option of choosing anesthesia for the child , so that the unborn child’s pain is less severe.

Women should not be kept in the dark; women have the right to know what their unborn child experiences during an abortion. After being presented with the medical and scientific information on the development of the unborn child 20 weeks after fertilization, the woman is more aware of the pain experienced by the child during an abortion procedure, and able — at the very least — to make an informed decision. It is simply not fair to keep women in the dark.

Unborn children do not have a voice, but they are young members of the human family. It is time to look at the unborn child , and recognize that it is really a young human, who can feel pain and should be treated with care.

I urge my colleagues to support and pass this important piece of legislation.