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Pro-Life Activists Predict 'Fetal Pain' Law to Pass In Texas, Banning Abortions After 20 Weeks

Pro-life proponents are predicting Texas will become the 10th state in the U.S. to enact "fetal pain" legislation in 2013, effectively banning abortions after 20 weeks.

"The general medical consensus is that the developing human pre-born child is capable of experiencing torturous pain at 20 weeks post-fertilization," Elizabeth Graham, director of the Texas Right to Life anti-abortion group, said in a message to supporters last week.

Additionally, Graham told The Texas Tribune that she believes the strong Republican presence in state legislature will allow the "fetal pain" bill and other strict pro-life legislation to pass in 2013.

"The numbers are definitely on the pro-life side," Graham told The Texas Tribune, as reported in a Nov. 23 article.

"What we can't predict are the dynamics and the politics," she added.

The "fetal pain" bill is based on controversial neonatal perception medical research that says fetuses can feel pain after 20 weeks in the womb.

Neonatal perception research varies, and while pro-life groups argue that a fetus can feel pain after 20 weeks and therefore should not be aborted, pro-choice groups argue that a fetus does not have sensory reflexes until it is out of the womb.

When Georgia passed "fetal pain" legislation in May 2012, subsequently illegalizing abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy without the exception of rape or incest, Gov. Nathan Deal called the legislation an affirmation of "Georgia's commitment to preserving the sanctity of all human life."

"This legislation provides humane protection to innocents capable of feeling pain while making an important exception for ... medically futile pregnancies," Gov. Deal added in a public statement. 

Conversely, Leola Reis, a spokeswoman for the Atlanta-based Planned Parenthood Southeast, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution  that she believes "women should not be forced to adhere to legislative directives that are based on unsound medical science."

Currently, third trimester abortion in Texas is illegal unless the health of the mother is at stake, or if fetal abnormalities are detected in the fetus.

Texas has already had a series of successful pro-life legislation passed in recent years, including the 2011 ruling that women seeking abortions must make two visits to the abortion clinic, with one visit involving a sonogram performed 24 hours prior to an abortion.

Additionally, 2011 marked the passing of Texas's "Women's Right To Know Act," which requires physicians to provide women seeking abortions with literature on medical risks, adoption alternatives, and developmental stages of the fetus 24 hours before receiving an abortion. 

Fetal pain legislation has currently been enacted in Arizona, Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Georgia.

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