ABORTION EXCRUCIATINGLY PAINFUL TO UNBORN -- (House of Representatives - May 20, 2004)
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Smith) is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. Smith of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, abortion is excruciatingly painful to unborn children. It hurts. It hurts the children.
In expert testimony provided to the Northern District of the U.S. District Court in California on April 15, during the partial birth abortion trials, Dr. Sunny Anand, Director of the Pain Neurobiology Laboratory at Arkansas Children's Hospital Research Institute, explained, "The human fetus possesses the ability to experience pain from 20 weeks of gestation, if not earlier, and the pain perceived by a fetus is possibly more intense than that perceived by term newborns or older children."
Dr. Anand further describes before the court that the "highest density of pain receptors per square inch of skin in human development occurs in utero," while still in the womb, "from 20 to 30 weeks gestation. During this period, the epidermis is still very thin, leaving nerve fibers closer to the surface of the skin than in older neonates and adults."
He went on to explain that the pain inhibitory mechanisms, in other words fibers which dampen and modulate the experience of pain, do not begin to develop until 32 to 34 weeks of gestation. Thus, Dr. Anand concludes, a fetus 20 to 32 weeks of gestation would experience a much more intense pain than older infants or children or adults when these groups are subjected to similar types of injury.
Dr. Anand points out on the question of fetal consciousness that more than 3 decades of research show that preterm infants are actively perceiving, learning and organizing information, and are constantly striving to regulate themselves, their environment and their experiences. All preterm infants actively approach and favor experiences that are developmentally supporting and actively avoiding experiences that are disruptive.
So, today, Mr. Speaker, Senator Brownback and I have introduced legislation. In the House it is H.R. 4420, the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act. This bipartisan piece of legislation, which now has over two dozen House sponsors and 22 Senate sponsors, would require that those performing abortions at or beyond 20 weeks gestation provide the mother with certain information regarding the capacity of the unborn child to experience pain during the abortion and offer the mother the option of having pain-reducing drugs administered directly to the unborn child to reduce the baby's pain.
Mr. Speaker, before an abortion involving a pain-capable child begins, the abortionist would have to provide the woman with an oral statement at this stage of development of the unborn child, saying that the child has physical structures to feel pain and that the abortion would likely cause pain to the unborn child.
The bill ensures that the mother has the option of choosing to have anesthesia administered directly to the unborn child if she so desires in order to reduce or to eliminate and mitigate that pain.
Mr. Speaker, the recent partial-birth abortion trials have shattered, hopefully forever, the myth, the big lie, that somehow the unborn child does not feel pain during an abortion. The pro-abortion lobby has spread that. Finally, that myth has been shattered. Even the American Civil Liberties Union, Mr. Speaker, the ACLU, has conceded that unborn children feel pain during an abortion. In a February motion to exclude evidence regarding fetal pain in the partial-birth abortion ban trials, the ACLU went so far as to argue that testimony on fetal pain in relation to partial-birth abortion was irrelevant because they said the dilation-and-evacuation method of abortion, involving dismemberment, is more painful than a partial-birth abortion.
So the question, Mr. Speaker, is clearly not whether or not unborn children feel pain during the commission of this act of violence, perfectly legal, a D&E, as they call it, method of abortion, but how much do the children feel. There is growing evidence, Mr. Speaker, to suggest that children feel a frightening amount of pain during these abortion procedures. I agree with the ACLU when they make that statement as they did before the court.
Let me just remind my colleagues, the D&E method of abortion as used in most second-trimester abortions involves the abortionist grasping the unborn child's body parts, various parts, arms, legs, torso with a long-toothed clamp. The fetal body parts are then torn off the body and pulled out of the mother piecemeal. It is an act of dismemberment. It is a despicable act. It is a violent act. It is an act of violence.
It takes about 30 minutes for this act of violence, again perfectly legal, allowed by Roe v. Wade, to occur. During those 30 minutes, this child suffers immensely. I would remind my colleagues that Congress requires that pain be mitigated when livestock are slaughtered, not so when an unborn child is slaughtered. I would ask Members to take a good, strong look at this legislation and hopefully cosponsor it and get this bill to the floor so that we can vote on it.
Let me just finally say to my colleagues, there was a Zogby poll recently on the question, do you support laws requiring that women who are 20 weeks or more along in their pregnancy be given information about fetal pain before having an abortion? Seventy-seven percent of the people said yes. Only 16 percent disagreed. We should not be killing these children, Mr. Speaker, but they should at least not have to suffer such excruciating pain. I urge passage as soon as possible of this legislation.