In March, the Missouri House of Representatives passed House Bill 1266. The “so-called” Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act aimed at limiting a woman’s access to safe and legal abortion based on the bogus concept of “fetal pain.” But, is this concept actually real and should it be used to limit access to reproductive health care?
Opponents of safe, legal abortion are using legislation like House Bill 1266 to substitute politicians' opinions for a physician's medical judgment and impose new reporting requirements, civil fines, and criminal penalties on physicians. It is an extreme measure that would ban abortion altogether after 22 weeks of pregnancy. This bill, like similar bills introduced around the country and in the U.S. Congress, ignores the real science of fetal development -- a fetus is not capable of experiencing pain before the third trimester.
This abortion ban is rooted in opposition to legal abortion, not credible medical evidence. The world’s leading medical organizations that establish standards for reproductive health care, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) agree that a fetus does not possess the “structural and functional neurological capacity to experience pain before 26 weeks.”
This one-size-fits-all ban leaves women in potentially dangerous positions. It has nothing to do with patient health or safety — it’s simply adding another barrier to safe and legal abortion. As many women and medical providers know, there are many reasons a woman may seek an abortion at 22 weeks, including fatal or serious medical conditions to the woman and/or her fetus that cannot be diagnosed earlier in pregnancy. This bill would take decision-making away from patients and their trusted health care providers and put it in the hands of politicians.
Sound health policy should be grounded in the best scientific evidence, not political agendas. The best health care is provided free of political interference in the patient-physician relationship. Personal decision making by women and their doctors should not be replaced by political ideology. Choosing whether and when to have an abortion is a decision that belongs to a woman, their doctor, and their family — not politicians.
Current Status of Bill:
ACOG statement on federal version of HB 1266: ACOG Opposes U.S. Senate Effort to Limit Abortion Access
Medscape article by ACOG’s Dr. Mark DeFrancesco: No Evidence to Show Fetal Pain in Second Trimester
ACOG Fact Sheet: Facts Are Important - Fetal Pain
Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri: HB 1266 Fact Sheet