Monday, June 28, 2010

A New Study Undermines Nebraska’s Anti-Choice Law

Remember the heinous, anti-choice bills that were recently passed in Nebraska? You may recall that one of the bills placed a ban on abortion after 20 weeks based on the unsupported belief that the fetus can feel pain.  This ban is the first law in the nation that restricts abortion on a premise other than viability, which contradicts over three decades of judicial precedent set by Roe v. Wade. Nebraskan politicians passed this legislation despite the fact that legal scholars and scientists maintained that there was no reputable scientific evidence to support the claim that fetal pain occurs at this stage in the pregnancy.

Well, it turns out that a recent study by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists further debunks the theory of fetal pain.  The research found that there is not sufficient neurological development for the fetus to feel pain before 24 weeks.  The report also emphasized the fact that it is difficult to say whether the fetus will feel pain after 24 weeks, because the perception of pain is largely a behavior that is learned after birth.  This study provides even more evidence that the justification for the Nebraska law is based more on political posturing than scientific fact.

When it comes to reproductive health, this is not the only time politicians have ignored facts to further their agenda. On issues ranging from comprehensive sex education to late term abortion to expanding family planning services, anti-choice politicians have shown time and again that they are willing to support legislation that contradicts the consensus of medical and scientific communities. Women deserve access to medically accurate information when it comes to making reproductive health decisions, not biased information aimed at restricting and manipulating their options. 

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