Doctors File Legal Brief; 20-Week-Old Babies Feel Pain During Abortion

A doctors group that supports an Arizona law restricting non-emergency abortions after 20 weeks filed a legal brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit showing that babies feel pain during an abortion as early as the same amount of weeks into a pregnancy.

The 9th Circuit ruled to temporarily prevent implementation of Arizona H.B. 2036 on Aug. 1. The passed law, which is now being considered by the court, would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy save in the event of medical emergency.

A district court found that "the unborn child has developed pain sensors all over its body by 20 weeks gestational age" and that there is concern for "the health of the pregnant woman" because the instance of complications is highest after this time.

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"Every innocent life deserves to be protected. Not only does this law protect children in the womb who experience horrific pain during a late-term abortion, it also protects mothers from the dangers and tremendous psychological consequences of late-term abortions," said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Steven H. Aden. "The ACLU and the Center for Reproductive Rights, who filed this lawsuit, apparently don't care about this. Instead, they prefer to pursue their own agenda."

"This brief is intended to educate the court and the public about the reality that babies feel pain during an abortion as early as 20 weeks into a pregnancy," Aden added. "That's just one reason that Arizona's law is entirely reasonable and constitutional."

Professor of Law Teresa Collett of the University of St. Thomas Law School, and one of nearly 2,200 allied attorneys with ADF, filed the brief Wednesday in the court case, Isaacson v. Horne, on behalf of Doctors on Fetal Pain, an unincorporated association of physicians and medical researchers.

According to the friend-of-the-court brief, the law "relies upon scientific evidence establishing the unborn child's capacity to feel pain at twenty weeks gestation, and concludes that the acquisition of this capacity makes that child sufficiently like the rest of us to mark a tipping point-a tipping point at which it becomes reasonable for Arizona to restrict abortion."

Arizona is one of 10 states to pass a law banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. North Carolina has had a ban for some time, while Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, and Oklahoma enacted similar bans over the past couple years.

Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly Alliance Defense Fund) is an alliance-building legal ministry that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

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