H.R. 1797 - Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act has recently passed the House of Representatives in a vote of 228-196. The bill moves to ban abortions after 20 weeks gestation except for in the event of minor incest, rape or a threat to the life of the mother. It has been said that there is no way that the bill will pass the senate.
I was extremely proud to read the statement by Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, when he stated, "These aren’t just fetuses, science now tells us that they can feel pain. These babies are just like the ones we see in Neonatal Intensive Care Units in hospitals in our area struggling for life, needing love".
The statements of Dr. Lisa Perriera from the University Hosptials Case Medical Center appalled me, however, as she stated, “Three studies have been done in human fetuses to examine the development of connections between nerves,” Perriera said. “And we don’t think those connections start to form until somewhere between 23 and 30 weeks gestation.” My initial reaction is, okay, "we don't think", who is this "we"? My next reaction was one of extreme anger. Who is this doctor to say that fetuses between 23 and 30 weeks do not have nerve connections? Who is to say that they do not feel pain?
In my opinion, the people who make these claims likely have never been pregnant, or have never seen the inside of a NICU. Before these heinous allegations are made, the FACTS should be brought to light. My daughter was born at 30 weeks gestation, developed to that of a 27-week "fetus". When she was born, she cried if she felt pain, she smiled when she was happy. She urinated and defecated, ate, shed tears and squirmed just as if anyone would imagine an infant would. Medically, she was still a fetus, but she was alive and deserved as much love and care as any human being by any standard. She received two months of care in a NICU unit until she was well enough to come home. At no time did those doctors look at me, throw their hands up and say "oh well, we're not going to help your daughter because she's not 30 weeks gestation". What kind of morals and ethics would they have to do that? That is what our government is asking us to do by supporting a bill that allows abortions on fetuses that "we don't think" have feeling at a certain stage of development.
When did our government become so cold hearted that "it" decided that babies of a certain age suddenly could be classified as human. Humanity is engrained within those of us intelligent enough to do the right thing and support the right people. If we lose our humanity, we are no better than primates or savages.
I understand the government's reluctance to completely abolish abortion. Yes, there are civil rights issues that must be considered, I get that. However, it is important that we understand exactly what we are fighting for or against. First, Roe v. Wade was a long time ago, and not every debate over abortion rights is in some attempt to have that overturned. Second, the primary concern at this point is not with whether abortion is banned, it is at what point abortions are allowed to legally be performed. Every single baby is different and develops at different speeds depending upon a myriad of medical factors. Therefore, choosing a law that governs every single baby as if they are a product produced on an assembly line does not make sense.
I think that it should be made a law that anyone who has the right to vote on abortion matters in terms of stages of development and gestation should, himself or herself, be required to visit a NICU unit and see for him or herself just how many fetuses are viable when abortions are performed. If mothers should be legally required to view an ultrasound before choosing an abortion, then lawmakers should be held to an even higher standard, and should be made physically aware of what they are choosing to allow. Life is life, and everyone deserves the same courtesies and protections of another. Will our government rise to the challenge to be challenged themselves? To step outside of themselves and their comfortable lives to see how real, everyday Americans live and fight for the lives of their children? To see the children in those NICU units fighting to survive in situations that is beyond their choosing. I challenge any lawmaker to approach me and tell me that my daughter was not worth fighting for. I dare them to do so, actually.
My daughter just turned one year old, and she is happy, healthy, and wonderful. What would she be had I given up when the doctor told me I could die because I had the legal option to do so? The thought never crossed my mind. I risked my life for her, because she is a person. I believe that everyone deserves a chance to contribute to the world. This little angel has influenced many people around her in her one year of life. How many more will she touch as she gets older, simply because she can?