House approves ‘Pain-Capable Unborn Child Bill’

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report

Published 09-Mar-2011

The Oklahoma House of Representatives approved legislation today (Wednesday, March 9) to make it illegal to perform an abortion on an unborn child who is capable of feeling pain. The measure gained overwhelming bipartisan support.

“This legislation updates our law to reflect the latest scientific research,” said state Rep. Pam Peterson, a Tulsa Republican. “A wealth of physiological, behavioral and anatomical evidence shows that the developing unborn child is capable of experiencing tremendous pain by 20 weeks post-fertilization. Under this bill, our law will catch up with the scientific evidence.”

House Bill 1888, by Peterson, creates the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.” The proposed law would require abortion providers to determine fetal age prior to an abortion and make it illegal to perform an abortion on an unborn child who is 20-or-more weeks of age.

The bill exempts situations in which the life of the mother is at risk or when the mother faces “serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment.”

A similar law has already been enacted in Nebraska.

The legislation is based on the latest medical research, which now shows that pain receptors are present throughout an unborn child’s entire body by no later than 16 weeks after fertilization, and nerves linking receptors to the brain’s thalamus and subcortical plate are present no later than 20 weeks.

In addition, it has been determined that by eight weeks of age an unborn child will react by recoiling from stimuli that would be recognized as painful if applied to an adult.

Research has also found that the application of painful stimuli is associated with significant increases in stress hormones in an unborn child.  That is one reason that fetal anesthesia is routinely administered when surgery is done on unborn children.

“This is a common-sense protection for the unborn that has been embraced by both Democrats and Republicans,” Peterson said. “I am confident this sensible legislation will become law this year.”

H.B. 1888, one of two priority bills for pro-life groups this year,  according to Tony Lauinger of Oklahomans for Life and his close allies, passed Oklahoma House of Representatives on 94-2 vote. It now goes to the state Senate.