Fetuses to receive anesthesia before abortion – new Utah law


Can a fetus lodged in the mother’s womb beyond 20 weeks feel pain when aborted? Well, doctors are not sure. But, a new law has been passed by Utah requiring physicians to administer strong anesthetic to any woman seeking abortion of her unborn child that is beyond 20 weeks of gestation. The law is the first in the nation, and rests on the belief that a fetus can feel the pain in the second trimester.

The new law states that “fetal anesthesia” is important for the abortions that take place at this stage. The only time when there could be exceptions to fetal anesthesia is when the child is conceived out of rape, or the anesthesia would actually cause major health problems to the mother.

The moment the law was passed, it opened a can of worms. A small percentage of the medical community feels the legislation will be beneficial as it will likely scale down the number of advanced stage abortions. Curt Bramble, a Utah senator, said that he supported the law in order to put an end to advanced stage abortions. He knew that a law banning abortions would not see the light of the day. Hence, this was the best alternative. Governor Gary Herbert, who is pro-life, says, the objective should be to minimize any pain to a baby growing in a mom’s womb, during abortion.

The contenders of this law state that the fetus does not feel any pain during abortion. According to a 2005 report, there is no proof that a 20 weeks old fetus feels pain. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also supported this view in 2013. Most doctors are of the opinion that the neurological wiring is not in place until a very advanced stage in pregnancy; hence the law really is quite out of place. Anti-abortion law has somehow become a political fodder for restricting abortions, but fetal anesthesia law could hamper the relationship between a doctor and her patient. Anesthetic that is supposed to prevent fetal pain is very strong, and can actually harm the mother to whom the drug is being administered. It is like a doctor telling her pregnant patient (who could already be feeling mental trauma because of intended abortion) that she would be given an anesthetic that would not benefit her in any way; rather there could be a risk to her life.

Doctors are also miffed that they are being asked to do something about which there is no proof. They observe this as another way of stopping abortions. A majority of U.S. states have introduced fetal pain as a factor to ban abortions after the second trimester, and 12 of these states have been successful.

What do you feel about this law – does it make sense in terms of medical applicability?