A Painful Reality

Imagine holding the youngest surviving premature child, born at just 21 weeks. We wouldn’t dare jostle her too roughly, let alone abandon her to the harshest of procedures. But had she not been born yet, even that very week, pro-abortion activists would think little of subjecting her to an excruciatingly painful death.

The people of Nebraska are saying “no more.” This week, the state legislature enacted groundbreaking pro-life legislation. The Pain-Capable Child Protection Act is the first in the nation to ban abortions after 20 weeks gestation not because of infant viability, but because preborn babies at that age can feel pain.

It’s new thinking that could successfully challenge Roe v. Wade. The Supreme Court always considered the age of viability to be the earliest point states could ban abortion, but Nebraska suggests a new, more compelling standard. Since our highest court has never heard an argument based on scientific evidence about fetal pain, there is no precedent. This would be an original case, and one with potential for success.

The Court already opened the door in 2003 when they affirmed the right of states to ban certain procedures which “might cause the medical profession or society as a whole to become insensitive, even disdainful, to life, including life in the human fetus.” If that doesn’t fit the bill, I don’t know what does.

Of course pro-abortion activists are already trying to discredit the facts about fetal pain, pushing aside the research and testimony of a multitude of physicians. They played this same game years ago, when the cruelty of partial-birth abortion came to light. But thanks to technology, we know far more about preborn babies than before. (Even Roe v. Wade’s standard of infant viability has had to be adjusted over time. Years ago, it was 28 weeks. Now, medical advances make it possible at 22-24 weeks.)

We know more about the impact of abortion on women, too. Nebraska passed a companion bill, requiring physicians to screen patients for possible physical or mental risks prior to an abortion – much as they do for other procedures – in hopes of preventing widely-reported post-abortion depression, trauma and suicide. The radical Center for Reproductive Rights calls this an “extreme” measure that “harms” women. They’re actually opposing efforts to help women in pain. At least we know where their priorities lie.

But fighting truth and compassion is a losing battle. Little by little, so-called abortion rights are being whittled away by the technology that first made them possible. If Nebraska’s law stands, we’ll take another step in the right direction.


Bradley Mattes
President, Life Issues Institute

Life Issues Institute is dedicated to changing hearts and minds of millions of people through education. For 32 years, organizations and individuals around the world have depended upon Life Issues Institute to provide the latest information and effective tools to protect innocent human life from womb to tomb.

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