Saturday, June 11, 2011

Alabama Senate passes “fetal pain” anti-abortion bill

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Sen. Scott Beason (R-AL)
Sen. Scott Beason (R-AL)

Just had to jinx it, didn’t I? Only yesterday, I was commenting on how a draconian anti-abortion bill that would have criminalized the termination of any pregnancy that wasn’t medically required, had been derailed in Louisiana. So, I suppose it only follows that another such piece of horrible legislation should actually be passed, this one in Alabama [links removed]:

The Alabama GOP marked a successful week in regressive legislation. Gov. Robert Bentley (R) signed the nation’s toughest immigration bill into law yesterday, requiring local police to detain suspected undocumented immigrants and Alabama schools to collect student citizenship information. The GOP-led state Senate then rounded out the day by passing a radical anti-abortion bill that bans anyone from performing abortion after 20 weeks — an act that would punish the doctor with “one to 10 years in prison.”

State Sen. Scott Beason (R), known previously for advising politicians to “empty the clip” to stop undocumented immigrants, ushered the bill through the Senate. Defending the extreme restriction on the basis of “fetal pain,” Beason — who received a degree in geology — definitively declared that “there’s no doubt” a fetus experiences pain at 20 weeks:

”It’s clear that a baby at 20 weeks experiences pain. There’s no doubt about that,” said Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale, who pushed for the bill’s approval in the Senate.

”We’re trying to get it back to the point where once a baby feels pain, there can be no abortions,” Beason said.

Those with an actual medical degree, however, have expressed significant doubt that a fetus’ pain perception functions at 20 weeks. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, “The fetus’s higher pain pathways are not yet fully developed and functional” before the third trimester. Even a fellow Republican lawmaker in Kansas noted assertions like Beason’s are “based on false research” and “untruths.”

Alabama Senate Republicans even used this “fetal pain at 20 weeks” bullshit as a basis for rejecting an amendment that would have allowed for exceptions to the ban in cases of rape, incest, or when the woman’s health was at risk. Because, as we’ve seen so many times before, if anti-choice zealots are going to be creating a flat-out ban against such a critical part of women’s reproductive health, they might as well go all-out asshole about it. Where’s the place for empathy when you’re busy legislating your regressive moral beliefs into law over everyone else?