Tuesday, September 7, 2004

The Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act: "Every day in the United States unborn children are subjected to trauma that causes them excruciating pain, and that would be illegal if inflicted on animals in commerce or research.

H.R. 4420/S. 2466 "would require every abortionist to provide, whenever a woman seeks an abortion past 20 weeks after fertilization, specified information about the capacity of her unborn child to experience pain during the abortion. After that, the woman must either accept or refuse (by signing a form) the administration of pain-reducing drugs directly to the unborn child. The woman's decision regarding such drugs is entirely voluntary."

"Findings of Fact from Judge Casey: 'The Court finds that the testimony at trial and before Congress establishes that D&X [partial-birth abortion] is a gruesome, brutal, barbaric, and uncivilized medical procedure. Dr. Anand's testimony, which went unrebutted by Plaintiffs, is credible evidence that D&X abortions subject fetuses to severe pain.

"'Notwithstanding this evidence, some of Plaintiffs' experts testified that fetal pain does not concern them, and that some do not convey to their patients that their fetuses may undergo severe pain during a D&X.'"

'Fetal Pain' Bill New Item on Anti-Choice Agenda: "It's a development that reproductive rights organizations now are having to wrangle with."

"In the three federal-court trials on the constitutionality of the federal abortion ban—in courts in New York, California and Nebraska—the government put Dr. Kanwaljeet S. Anand on the stand to give his opinion about fetal pain.

"Anand, a pediatrician and professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, believes that a fetus experiences pain after 20 weeks gestation and that drugs provided to a pregnant woman do not anesthetize the fetus. Anand, who works with newborns, bases his analysis on fetal response to external stimuli such as needling or moving away from a sharp object."

According to the bill, "the doctor's scripted statement would include the advice that anesthesia could be 'administered directly' to the fetus, an offer that some doctors say can't really honestly be made.

"Dr. Hytham Imseis, a maternal-fetal specialist, professor and residency director at the Mountain Area Health Education Center in Asheville, N.C., says that administering anesthesia 'directly' to the fetus would require use of an ultrasound-guided needle.

"'The number of folks who can do that is very limited,' he said and added that the women who did manage to find such a service would encounter much greater personal medical risk.

"Unlike Anand, the doctor who testified in the government's fetal-pain case in court, Imseis believes that anesthesia administered to a woman also anesthetizes a fetus.

"'The bill is trying to cause alarm in women who would choose an abortion procedure,' he said."

However, such a claim by Dr. Imseis would cause alarm in women needing medical treatment.

During testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, The Honorable Dr. Tom Coburn said, "I was alarmed by this erroneous information because it could negatively impact the health of any pregnant woman who, fearing the consequences of anesthesia on her unborn child, may delay necessary and even life-saving medical procedures."

Following Dr. Coburn's testimony, Norig Ellison, M.D., president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), testified before the committee: "I appear here today for one purpose, and one purpose only: to take issue with the testimony of James T. McMahon, M.D., before this Subcommittee last June.

"According to his written testimony, of which I have a copy, Dr. McMahon stated that anesthesia given to the mother as part of dilation and extraction abortion procedure eliminates any pain to the fetus and that a medical coma is induced in the fetus, causing a 'neurological fetal demise,' or—in lay terms—'brain death.'

"I believe this statement to be entirely inaccurate. I am deeply concerned, moreover, that the widespread publicity given to Dr. McMahon's testimony may cause pregnant women to delay necessary, even life-saving, medical procedures, totally unrelated to the birthing process, due to misinformation regarding the effect of anesthetics on the fetus. Annually over 50,000 pregnant women are anesthetized for such necessary procedures."

Women deserve to understand these significant consequences of their choice.

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