By Dave Andrusko
On March 16, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony from a panel of expert witnesses on two very important bills: S. 2066, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivor’s Protection Act, and S.1553, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.
NRL News Today posted two stories about the hearing this week. The first was the opening statement from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Ia.), the committee chairman.
The second story was the personal reflections of Melissa Ohden, who survived a “failed” saline abortion in 1977, following her testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Finishing out the week are quotations from the testimony of two women who testified. Prof. Colleen A. Malloy outlined the extensive medical evidence that by at least 20 weeks beyond fertilization (which is equivalent to 22 weeks of pregnancy — about the start of the sixth month) the unborn child can feel pain.
Comparing the United States to other nations. Lawyer Angelina B. Nguyen demonstrated how “ultrapermissive” are our abortion laws.
Prof. Malloy serves as an associate professor in the Division of Neonatology in the Department of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
Her testimony addressed many of the most important issues surrounding fetal pain, beginning with
Standard of care for neonatal intensive care units requires attention to and treatment of neonatal pain. There is no reason to believe that a born infant would feel pain any differently than that same infant would, were he or she still in utero. The difference between fetal and neonatal pain is simply the locale in which the pain occurs. The receiver’s experience of the pain is the same. I could never imagine subjecting my tiny patients to horrific procedures such as those that involve limb detachment or cardiac injection.
Prof. Malloy also explained to the Judiciary Committee that “[T]he fetus and the premature neonate may be even more susceptible to the pain experience.”
There is ample evidence to show that while the pain system develops in the first half of pregnancy, the pain modulating pathways do not develop until the second half. It is later in pregnancy that the descending, inhibitory neural pathways mature, which then allow for dampening of the pain experience. As reported in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the “… fetus may actually be more sensitive than the older child, and [this] may explain why the newborn shows exaggerated behavioral responses to sensory provocation.”
In her written testimony, Prof. Malloy concluded
I have no doubt that my premature neonatal patients feel pain and experience pain. Even early on, they demonstrate personalities and interact positively as well as negatively with
their environments. With our advanced “views into the womb,” we are now better able to appreciate the active life of the developing fetus as one engaged with his or her uterine locale. I firmly believe, as the evidence shows, that the fetal pain experience is no less than the neonatal pain experience or even than that which you or I would experience from dismemberment or other physical injury.
One of the most basic of government principles is that the state should protect its members, including all born infants, from harm. If we are to be a benevolent society, we must protect the fetus from pain and administer appropriate medical care to all born infants. We should not tolerate the gruesome and painful procedures being performed on the smallest of our nation, and we should not treat infant abortion survivors with any less medical care than their neonatal peers.
Nguyen, an Associate Scholar at Charlotte Lozier Institute , explained at length just how out of the international mainstream is America’s permissive abortion policies.
In addition, she went on to argue that U.S. abortion policies are also “unworkable in light of advancements in prenatal science and technology.” Prof. Nguyen concluded
This piece of legislation is neither extreme nor unreasonable, but is a well reasoned, well supported, and well liked limitation on the boundaries of elective abortion in America.