On May 13, 2015, the GOP-dominated House of Representatives passed a national ban on abortions after 20 weeks’ gestation. There had been no public notification of the upcoming legislation, and there were no hearings.
This ban is disguised as concern for “fetal pain”—a myth that reveals a lack of knowledge of the scientific facts of fetal development. Maturation of the brain and spinal cord is not present until around 32 weeks.
Anti-choice advocates cite the “startle response” in the fetus as evidence of “feeling pain,” but, again, the scientific facts are different. The “startle response” is only a primitive jerk reaction to vibrations applied to the pregnant woman’s abdomen.
The last rebuttal to “fetal pain” is that women whose abortions take place at 15 weeks or greater are always sedated with two medications, both of which cross the placenta to the fetus.
So what is the real agenda of the 20-week abortion ban?
There is a contingent of politicians and voters who assert their own freedom of beliefs but also insist they have the right to deny women (and their doctors) medical choices about how to manage unplanned or malformed pregnancies.
So, have we as a country decided that the GOP-dominated Congress has the right to mandate motherhood after 20 weeks? What else will the government mandate that will intrude on intimate family decisions and also meddle in the doctor- patient relationship?
Karen J. Pataky, NPC
Vice President for Public Policy and Political Action
Chair, Health Care Task Force