Tuesday, July 31, 2012

House Vote Today - H.R. 3803: DC Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act #HR3803

The House is scheduled to vote on the District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 3803) today under suspension of the rules.

Currently:
  • Abortion is legal in D.C. up until birth for any reason.
  • Recent polling shows that 63% of Americans support banning abortion on pain-capable unborn children and 70% of women support such a ban.
  • The most common method of abortion used in the late second trimester is the “D&E” or dismemberment abortion, which involves using a long steel tool to grasp and tear off, by brute force, the arms and legs of the unborn child. Then the head is crushed and removed.
  • There is substantial evidence that unborn children can feel pain at least by 20 weeks. Leading expert Dr. Anand at the University of Tennessee has stated, “It is my opinion that the human fetus possesses the ability to experience pain from 20 weeks gestation, if not earlier, and the pain perceived by a fetus is possibly more intense than that perceived by term newborns or older children.”

H.R. 3803: District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act
Sponsor: Rep Franks, Trent [AZ-2] (introduced 1/23/2012)      Cosponsors (222)
Related Bills: S.2103

ALL ACTIONS 

Legislative Findings:

(1) Pain receptors (nociceptors) are present throughout the unborn child's entire body and nerves link these receptors to the brain's thalamus and subcortical plate by no later than 20 weeks after fertilization.

(2) By 8 weeks after fertilization, the unborn child reacts to touch. After 20 weeks, the unborn child reacts to stimuli that would be recognized as painful if applied to an adult human, for example, by recoiling.

(3) In the unborn child, application of such painful stimuli is associated with significant increases in stress hormones known as the stress response.

(4) Subjection to such painful stimuli is associated with long-term harmful neurodevelopmental effects, such as altered pain sensitivity and, possibly, emotional, behavioral, and learning disabilities later in life.

(5) For the purposes of surgery on unborn children, fetal anesthesia is routinely administered and is associated with a decrease in stress hormones compared to their level when painful stimuli are applied without such anesthesia.

(6) The position, asserted by some medical experts, that the unborn child is incapable of experiencing pain until a point later in pregnancy than 20 weeks after fertilization predominately rests on the assumption that the ability to experience pain depends on the cerebral cortex and requires nerve connections between the thalamus and the cortex. However, recent medical research and analysis, especially since 2007, provides strong evidence for the conclusion that a functioning cortex is not necessary to experience pain.

(7) Substantial evidence indicates that children born missing the bulk of the cerebral cortex, those with hydranencephaly, nevertheless experience pain.

(8) In adult humans and in animals, stimulation or ablation of the cerebral cortex does not alter pain perception, while stimulation or ablation of the thalamus does.

(9) Substantial evidence indicates that structures used for pain processing in early development differ from those of adults, using different neural elements available at specific times during development, such as the subcortical plate, to fulfill the role of pain processing.

(10) The position, asserted by some commentators, that the unborn child remains in a coma-like sleep state that precludes the unborn child experiencing pain is inconsistent with the documented reaction of unborn children to painful stimuli and with the experience of fetal surgeons who have found it necessary to sedate the unborn child with anesthesia to prevent the unborn child from engaging in vigorous movement in reaction to invasive surgery.

(11) Consequently, there is substantial medical evidence that an unborn child is capable of experiencing pain at least by 20 weeks after fertilization, if not earlier.

(12) It is the purpose of the Congress to assert a compelling governmental interest in protecting the lives of unborn children from the stage at which substantial medical evidence indicates that they are capable of feeling pain.

(13) The compelling governmental interest in protecting the lives of unborn children from the stage at which substantial medical evidence indicates that they are capable of feeling pain is intended to be separate from and independent of the compelling governmental interest in protecting the lives of unborn children from the stage of viability, and neither governmental interest is intended to replace the other.

(14) The District Council of the District of Columbia, operating under authority delegated by Congress, repealed all limitations on abortion at any stage of pregnancy, effective April 29, 2004.

(15) Article I, section 8 of the Constitution of the United States of America provides that the Congress shall `exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever' over the District established as the seat of government of the United States, now known as the District of Columbia. The constitutional responsibility for the protection of pain-capable unborn children within the Federal District resides with the Congress.

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