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They Feel Pain; Let’s Protect Them

Ellos sienten el dolor; protejámoslos

Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director, Priests for Life

June 15, 2015
   
 

Historic legislation, focusing on the pain children feel when they are killed in the womb by abortion, will be voted on in the US House of Representatives this week, possibly on the second anniversary (May 13) of the conviction of abortionist Kermit Gosnell. His trial raised the public’s awareness of late term abortion.

The measure is called the “Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” (H.R. 36), and says that from the point of 20 weeks of development forward, children in the womb may not be killed by abortion.

These children do feel pain, and protecting children from pain is a good motive for the state to protect them from abortion.

Consider the fact that, not so long ago, it was thought that newborns could not feel pain. Surgery was carried out on newborn and premature infants with minimal or no anesthesia. But since 1986, this practice has been unacceptable, and it is recognized that they can experience severe pain.

Pain cannot be measured directly. The unborn child cannot say “Ouch!” What has to be examined instead are things like stress reactions, measured by the release of certain hormones in the blood, and the presence of the various anatomical structures necessary for the transmission and perception of pain. Studies have shown various hormonal reactions as well as “full body response,” when the whole body reacts to a painful stimulus rather than just one part of the body as would happen with a reflex. Moreover, the unborn child at this stage has the three key elements needed for pain perception: the pain sensors throughout the body, the thalamus of the brain, and the nerve pathways connecting the two, via the spinal cord. The cerebral cortex of the brain is not necessary in order to feel pain.

Moreover, the unborn may actually feel more pain than the adult because there is evidence that the mechanisms that inhibit pain seem to develop after those that enable the perception of pain.

And these are the things we need to talk about when discussing this legislation with family, friends, church leaders, and coworkers. Don’t talk so much about a “limit” or “restriction on abortion,” as valid as that is. Talk about the reality that these babies feel pain. Most people who oppose banning abortion nevertheless also care about protecting babies from pain.

Now President Obama, because of his own positions and because of the obsession that the Democratic Party has with permitting the killing of children in the womb, would veto this legislation if it came to his desk. But we will have a president in the White House before long who will sign this legislation. And the process must start now, just as the process to protect children from partial-birth abortion started under the Democratic pro-abortion president Bill Clinton. This will be a multi-Congress effort. The debates have to be held, positions and arguments have to be developed, legislators have to go on record, and the public has to be educated. Moreover, a legislator's position on such a bill should be an election issue if he or she is running for office in 2016.

From a moral dimension, every abortion is equally wrong, though the wrongness of every abortion is not equally evident to the public. Our goal is to protect every child, but if the legislative will is not present to protect all the children now, it is not only morally permissible but morally obligatory to do everything we can to protect the children that the legislative body is willing to protect at the present time. Some people mistakenly think that because this law does not protect every child now, that we should not be in favor of it. They mistakenly think we are guilty for not doing what we cannot do. But that is not true. We become guilty, instead, for not doing what we can do, and this bill, when it becomes law, could in fact save approximately 18,000 lives a year in America.

Action Alert: Help us Protect Children from Painful Abortions! 

Press Release:  Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life Urges Congress to Pass Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.  It would be immoral not to support this bill.

   
 
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1 Comments
Kevin J. Conklin says:
5/11/2015 3:12:05 PM
I remember the unborn in my daily Rosary.

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