“Will Abortion Reform Sweep the Nation?” By La Shawn Barber

Nebraska’s new abortion restriction law may signal a paradigm shift in the abortion debate.

The current standard for whether the state can interfere with a woman’s right to kill her baby derives from Roe v. Wade: viability. If the unborn baby can survive outside the womb, the state has a compelling interest to protect that life and thus restrict abortion. During the second trimester, the state may regulate abortion “in ways that are reasonably related to maternal health.” During the third trimester, the state may restrict or ban abortion “except where necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health of the mother.” Babies born at 28 weeks, the beginning of the third trimester, have a 90 percent survival rate.

Last week, Nebraska’s non-partisan legislature passed a measure 40-9 that alters the standard in the state. Signed by Governor Dave Heineman, the law bans most abortions 20 weeks after conception (with the usual exception for life or health of the mother), and it’s based on the notion that unborn babies can feel pain at that stage. The governor signed a related bill that requires abortion providers to screen women seeking abortions for mental and other risk factors and evaluate whether they were pressured into the decision.

A frequently cited 2005 Journal of the American Medical Association article suggested the earliest an unborn baby can feel pain is 28 weeks. National Right to Life Director of State Legislation Mary Spaulding Balch disagrees. “By 20 weeks after fertilization, unborn children have pain receptors throughout their body, and nerves link these to the brain,” she said. “These unborn children recoil from painful stimulation, which also dramatically increases their release of stress hormones. Doctors performing fetal surgery at and after 20 weeks now routinely use fetal anesthesia.”

This means babies torn apart during a second-trimester dilation and extraction may feel their dismemberment. Now imagine a so-called partial birth abortion, in which a third-trimester baby is delivered down the birth canal, with his head left inside. The “doctor” punctures the base of his skull with a pair of scissors and opens the scissors to enlarge the hole.

Perhaps the law will do what other efforts could not. In 1984, the formerly pro-abortion Dr. Bernard Nathanson sounded the alarm on fetal pain. He created a video called “Silent Scream,” which showed the killing of a 12-week-old unborn baby. The baby appears to scream in pain as he’s torn apart in the womb. Naturally, abortion advocates called the film misleading. According to TIME, “experts” said a 12-week-old baby can’t move “purposefully” as depicted in the film, and he can’t perceive danger.

Abby Johnson would disagree. A former Planned Parenthood executive director, Johnson left her employer after watching an abortion on ultrasound. She told the Christian Broadcasting Network that she watched the 13-week-old unborn baby “trying to get away from the probe that the doctor was using…I just wanted to make it stop…I could see it twisting and just saw it crumble…I will never do this again.” A baby one week older than the “Silent Scream” baby apparently moved purposefully and perceived danger.

Read the complete article here.

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