When politicians can’t outright ban abortion, they do the next best thing; put ridiculous requirements on it. Governor Gary Herbert of Utah has done just that. Gov. Herbert passed a law stating that if a woman gets an abortion past 20 weeks, doctors have to provide anesthesia to prevent any possible pain to the fetus. I’m all for reducing pain in medical procedures when it’s needed, but this is a bad idea in general.
First, I’d like to point out that fetal anesthesia isn’t really a thing. In order to provide the fetus with anesthesia, you have to send it through the mother. A big problem with that is there isn’t any scientific evidence that this provides any benefit at all to the fetus. As stated in a study about fetal pain from 2005:
“Little or no evidence addresses the effectiveness of direct fetal anesthetic or analgesic techniques”
Next, let’s point out that the core concept behind this, that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks is flawed. The same study concluded that:
“Evidence regarding the capacity for fetal pain is limited but indicates that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester.”
In fact, the neurological pathways that are required for someone to feel pain aren’t even developed until around 29 weeks.
This law also disregards the dangers to the mother:
“Similarly, limited or no data exist on the safety of such techniques for pregnant women in the context of abortion. Anesthetic techniques currently used during fetal surgery are not directly applicable to abortion procedures.”
I would like to add that in cases of preeclampsia, this would prove particularly dangerous. Dr. Sean Esplin stated:
“It could force women with the serious condition of preeclampsia, who have to either go into early labor or risk dying, to go under general anesthesia first and take on even greater risk.”
Another thing I would like to point out is that there is no mention of who is going to pay for the anesthesia. According to a spokesperson for Utah’s Department of Health, they don’t have any funds to cover the procedure. Thus, in addition to adding increased risk, they are also going to increase the cost of the procedure itself.
This law doesn’t really have anything to do with fetal pain, not really anyway. The fetal pain angle is just a way to institute the closest thing to a ban, which would be challenged and probably overturned. Granted, Utah isn’t the only state that has made abortions after 20 weeks difficult, if not impossible. A total of 15 states have passed full bans, but only 12 are actually active at this point because three are currently being challenged as unconstitutional.
There are other states as well that have taken the path of ridiculous requirements since an outright ban wouldn’t be possible. Indiana for example, has banned abortions for things like race, sex, and genetic abnormalities. If that weren’t crazy enough, the state also requires that the mother pay for a funeral and cremation services for the fetus. This requirement would also be placed on miscarriages.
I, for one, would like off this crazy train of needless legislation. I think Dr. Sara Imershein, an OB/GYN in D.C. said it best when she told CNN:
“It concerns me that we have personal political and ideological agendas on an absurd law. This law is designed to mislead patients against what is scientifically shown to be true,” she said. “Women’s health is medical, not political.”
Featured image courtesy of Emergency-Live.