Anesthesia For Dying Babies

Cynthia DavisState Rep. Cynthia Davis’ Capitol Report from 1/22/09:

Anesthesia For Dying Babies

Pain is proof we are still alive, but pain relief is one of the greatest benefits of living in the day of modern medicine. On Monday, I had a titanium screw inserted into the lower jawbone of my mouth. Known as a dental implant, the operation was painful. All totaled, I have had about 14 hospital surgeries and countless dental procedures where I was tremendously served by the gift of anesthesia. I like anesthesia. Anyone who has had any kind of surgery knows that local or general anesthesia is a marvelous amenity. Without it, the hospital corridors would be filled with screams, whiskey and bullets that could no longer be bitten.

Some scientists believe the unborn can feel pain within eight weeks from conception. Because babies can’t talk, we don’t know when they feel pain, but reactions observed indicate the unborn feel pain at 20 weeks. As medical technology increases, we are learning more about babies every day. When Roe v. Wade was passed in 1973, most women seeking abortions were told their unborn child was nothing but a blob of tissue. Today we know so much more. Click here for information on fetal pain: Fetal Pain

My bill, HB46, addresses many problems related to our current practice, which denies mothers full information about all of their options. One provision of this bill allows the mother to be informed that she can have anesthesia administered to her unborn baby before the abortion. Some people may not want to think about unborn babies suffering tumultuous pain, but it is a harsh reality we must face. If a human being is to be torn limb from limb or burned chemically with a salt water solution, the only compassionate response is to offer pain relief.

Those opposed to this legislation are concerned that mothers presented with this decision may no longer want to destroy the baby. When faced with the choice of anesthesia for the baby, it brings forth the undeniable truth that another human being will suffer.

Even criminals are humanely put to death for their crimes. A few years ago, I was at the Bonne Terre Prison at midnight when an execution was delayed. During the delay, the U.S. Supreme Court considered the constitutional legalities of if the prisoner felt even brief seconds of pain from the lethal injection. The question was whether this would be considered cruel and unusual punishment. As a society, we philosophically support the goal of alleviating pain and suffering to the greatest extent possible. The purpose of an abortion has never been to inflict unbearable pain on others.

Even some who are pro-abortion are satisfied with this law:

Not all abortion-rights activists object to the proposed law. “NARAL Pro-Choice America ‘does not intend to oppose’ it,” president Nancy Keenan said in a January statement, “because ‘pro-choice Americans have always believed that women deserve access to all the information relevant to their reproductive health decisions.’” (For more information, click here: National Right to Life article on Fetal Pain Study.)

In other words, if you claim to be pro-choice, you should be in favor of allowing women to make their choice based on facts and complete information, not keeping them in the dark. Many times people who claim to be “pro-choice” are only pro-choice so long as the woman makes the choice to get an abortion. To be philosophically congruent would mean that we support providing the information women need to make a decision they will feel good about years later.

Many of us have heard of the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. I think we need one for unborn babies.

Your thoughts are important to me, so please let me know what you think about my legislation to offer the option of providing anesthesia to babies being aborted. You can send me your opinion by clicking here: Cynthia Davis

This Capitol Report is a weekly newsletter by Representative Cynthia Davis, from the 19th District, covering events in the Missouri Legislature and district-wide issues. If you would like to receive Rep. Davis’ Capitol Report, please send an e-mail to

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