Pro-Life Fetal Pain Legislation Enacted in Alabama

In his article, Cameron Smith, General Counsel for the Alabama Policy Institute, analyzes recently enacted pro-life legislation in Alabama.

This month, with Gov. Robert Bentley’s signing of the Alabama Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, Alabama joined Nebraska, Idaho, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Indiana in passing legislation to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Lawmakers in Alabama, and other states, have used scientific research to justify setting the ban on abortions at 20 weeks of gestation. Research shows that at this stage the unborn child can experience both physiological and behavioral reactions to pain. Even those who disagree with this finding only do so to a certain extent. In response, and showing the power that scientific evidence has brought to the debate, pro-abortion groups have been largely silent in fighting fetal pain legislation.

Without question, fetal pain legislation is of the utmost importance because it has the potential to save the lives of numerous unborn children. Additionally, there are also a number of other outstanding and interesting side effects.

As Smith argues, it has the potential for moving Justice O’Connor’s “viability” standard in Planned Parenthood v. Casey further in the appropriate, pro-life direction. O’Connor ruled that “viability” is where the “independent existence of a second life can…be the object of state protection that…overrides the rights of the woman [to have an abortion].” Fetal pain legislation essentially moves O’Connor’s ruling in a pro-life direction by arguing that, the state, at the very least, has an interest in protecting the unborn from the moment it can feel pain.

Ultimately, Gov. Bentley and the Alabama legislature have taken an admirable step in joining the handful of other states which have enacted fetal pain legislation. The legislation will save lives, “demonstrate to the public a good-faith willingness to reduce the numbers of abortions performed,” and “create real challenges for abortion proponents in the court of public opinion as well as in the legal system.”

Fetal Pain legislation is one of the tenants of the Susan B. Anthony List Pro-Life Presidential Pledge. So far, five candidates including Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum have signed the Pledge, which requires the candidates to commit to “advance and sign into law a Pain-Capable Unborn Protection Act to protect unborn children who are capable of feeling pain from abortion” if elected President.

Only with  a pro-life President in the White House and a pro-life Congress will we be able to bring a fetal pain bill, such as the one passed by Alabama, to the federal level.

You can do your part by asking each candidate to sign the Pro-Life Presidential Pledge and by signing the Pro-Life Citizen’s Pledge to let them know that you expect a committed pro-life leader!

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