In an astonishing twist of right-wing nonsense, Senator Mike Lee of Utah filed an amendment to a cyber security bill in the Senate that would outlaw abortion in D.C. after twenty weeks of pregnancy, even in cases of incest or rape. Now, Republicans introduce quite a few anti-abortion legislative pieces, and most bills have amendments–but these seems a tad bit strange, considering the difference in subject matter.
That is, until you realize that the amendment is in actuality a copy of House Bill 3803, and this is just an underhanded attempt to run it through Congress again. The bill was originally defeated on the grounds that, in the words of DC delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, “This is the first time in our history that a standalone bill has come to the floor to deny the residents of the nation’s capitol the same constitutional rights as other Americans. We won’t stand for it.”
Republicans tried to argue that abortion after twenty weeks should be criminalized because fetuses at that age feel pain. There is no definite data regarding that, and fetuses are not viable outside the womb until around twenty-four weeks. The Republican argument, as in many cases, involved repeated pleas to emotion and very little reasonable logic. Senator Lee apparently has little regard for such thoughts or scientific research, as he said in February that, “Protecting unborn children from experiencing pain should not be controversial,” which, as has already been explained, is not a validated statement.
In fact, an article in Discover magazine published in 2005 said the following:
Fetuses cannot feel pain until at least the 28th week of gestation because they haven’t formed the necessary nerve pathways, says Mark Rosen, an obstetrical anesthesiologist at the University of California at San Francisco. He and his colleagues determined that until the third trimester, “the wiring at the point where you feel pain, such as the skin, doesn’t reach the emotional part where you feel pain, in the brain.” Although fetuses start forming pain receptors eight weeks into development, the thalamus, the part of the brain that routes information to other areas, doesn’t form for 20 more weeks. Without the thalamus, Rosen says, no information can reach the cortex for processing.
Not only that, but the majority of abortions performed are performed before twenty weeks anyway. The ones that aren’t performed before twenty weeks are pregnancies with fetus abnormalities, which coincidentally are usually undetectable before the twenty week period, or when there is risk to the mother’s life.
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