Sunday, 11 September 2011

Fetal Pain, My Ass

Nebraska was the first, but now five more USian states -- Idaho, Kansas, Alabama, Indiana, and Oklahoma -- have bogus 'fetal pain' abortion restrictions.

There is plenty of good science to back up the assertion that fetuses do NOT have the necessary nervous system development to experience pain until well past the cut-offs these laws impose.

And now there's more, this one seeming to show that specific pain sensing does not occur until very near birth.
Fetuses can tell the difference between pain and touch in only the last two weeks before birth, which could help to explain why babies born prematurely often have abnormal pain responses.

Lorenzo Fabrizi from University College London and colleagues used EEG, a non-invasive way of measuring brain activity, on 46 newborn babies as they underwent a routine heel lance – a pinprick to the heel for taking a blood sample.

They also measured how the babies' brains responded to normal touch – a light tap to the heel. Almost half of the babies were born prematurely – some at just 28 weeks – so the team were able to compare the responses of babies in the final stages of development with those of babies born at full term.

Premature babies up to the age of 35 weeks had bursts of activity across the whole brain in response to both pain and touch, but a change happened around 35 weeks. Between 35 to 37 weeks – just before a fetus would normally be born – the brain seemed to become able to tell the two stimuli apart. The responses to both pain and touch now took place in specific areas on the front, back and sides of the brain, but the signal was much stronger for pain.

Fabrizi cautions that naturally we can't know what fetuses feel, but this study supports what the truthy-facty people submitted during hearings on the bills. Opponents of the bills said not only were they based on non-science, they would impose extra burdens on women seeking abortion.

So how's that working out?

Oh, look.
An eastern Idaho woman has filed what is believed to be the first lawsuit in the nation to directly challenge the constitutionality of a so-called "fetal pain" abortion ban.

Her story is pretty sad.
[Jennie Lin] McCormack was charged with a felony in June after police said she took pills to terminate her pregnancy last December. Police found the fetus in a box at McCormack's Pocatello home Jan. 9, and an autopsy determined it was between five and six months gestation. Police said McCormack told them she didn't have enough money to go to a licensed medical professional, so her sister helped her access abortion-inducing drugs online.

A judge later dismissed the criminal case without prejudice for lack of evidence.

. . . In the lawsuit, McCormack challenges the lack of access to abortions for women in her region, as well as the ban on abortions after 20 weeks.

She notes there are no elective-abortion providers in southeastern Idaho, forcing women seeking the procedure to travel elsewhere.

McCormack was unmarried and unemployed at the time of her pregnancy - with an income of $200 to $250 a month - and already had three children. She couldn't afford the time or money it would take to travel to Salt Lake City to get an abortion, the lawsuit says.

This is what you get when you are governed by rightwing nutbars who refuse to listen to those nasty elitists, who, you know, actually know a thing or two.

And here's the part I would find enormously galling if I were a taxpayer in one of those states, regardless of my position on abortion.
It's not the first time Idaho lawmakers have passed abortion laws that they were warned likely would be found unconstitutional. In the past decade, Idaho has spent more than $730,000 to defend restrictive abortion laws that ended up being struck down by courts. Those costly rulings prompted legislative leaders in recent years to require that abortion-related legislation be reviewed by the Idaho attorney general's office.

The Constitution-clutching Tea Baggers know that these laws are likely unconstitutional and they go ahead and pass them anyway, creating unnecessary hoops for women to jump through and burdening the taxpayers with the costs of defending them.

When they are indefensible on any front. Bad science, bad policy, bad law.

But what the hell? We're at war, the Christian Taliban proclaims. The War on Women, now a weekly feature at Daily Kos.

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