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The startling testimony in three ongoing federal trials reviewing the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act provides a new twist for the abortion debate.

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Partial-Birth Abortion Trial: Babies Feel Pain

The startling testimony in three ongoing federal trials reviewing the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act provides a new twist for the abortion debate.

The startling testimony in three ongoing federal trials reviewing the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act has revealed that fetuses feel pain, that at least one abortionist never stops to think about it, and that sometimes babies are born alive during the procedure.

“I can state my opinion to a degree of medical certainty that all fetuses beyond 20 weeks of gestational age will experience severe pain by the partial-birth abortion procedure,” Dr. Kanwaljeet Anand testified in a New York trial. Anand is director of the Pain Neurobiology Laboratory of the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute.

On April 15, testifying in the California trial (Planned Parenthood v. Ashcroft), Anand said that at one time doctors did not believe newborn babies felt significant pain. “The standard practice was to perform operations on babies without giving them any pain relief or anesthesia,” he said. “Our initial studies showed that it was the opposite, that babies had a massive hormonal stress response, three to five times that of adult patients undergoing similar types of surgery. And so when we did these randomized controlled trials looking at the effects of anesthesia in newborn infants, we found that their stress responses were markedly reduced and their complications after the surgery were also diminished.”

Abortionist Timothy Johnson testified March 31 in the New York trial. “The instruments are thick enough and heavy enough that you can actually grasp and crush with those instruments as if you were picking up salad or picking up anything with,” he said before the judge interrupted, by saying, “Except here you are crushing the head of a baby.” Replied Johnson: “Correct.” Johnson went on to refer to the unborn child as a “baby” himself. During the procedure, the judge asked, “Were the feet moving?” Said Johnson, “Feet could be moving, yes.” The judge asked if the possibility of the fetus’s feeling pain would ever “cross his mind.” “No,” said Johnson. Repeated the judge, “Never crossed your mind.” “No,” Johnson said.

Several abortionists in the trials testified about problems encountered when babies are inadvertently born alive during abortions. “The one thing that I want — and I don’t want the staff to have to deal with is to have a fetus that you remove and have some viability to it, some movement of limbs, because it’s always a difficult situation,” testified abortionist William Fitzhugh in a Nebraska trial.

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Written By

Mr. D'Agostino, former associate editor of HUMAN EVENTS, is vice president for Communications at the Population Research Institute.

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