The Rev. Debra W. Haffner is the Director of the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing.
The House of Representatives this week is scheduled to vote on a bill titled the "Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act of 2006." Republicans are hurrying to have this bill considered before the new Congress takes over.
The bill requires that every woman in America who is having an abortion after 20 weeks receive a pamphlet that says that abortion causes pain to the fetus and that they have been offered fetal anesthesia.
The problem? Well according to a review article by the American Medical Association, "Evidence regarding the capacity for fetal pain is limited but indicates that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester," and there is "little or no evidence" of the effectiveness of fetal anesthesia and "limited or no data" on the safety of administering it.
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In other words, anti-choice legislators are attempting to pass a bill that is not consistent with what science is telling us in order to discourage women from having abortions. They are also trying to legislate medical practice based on false information.
That's not just bad medicine — it's bad ethics. Women have the right to complete and unbiased information when they are making decisions about the future of pregnancies. My understanding is that most abortions after 20 weeks are because of fetal abnormality and the mother's health. Adding to the mother's pain at this time is wrong. Tell your Congressperson to vote no.
Republished with permission from Sexuality and Religion: What's the Connection?