The House Committee hearing on a proposed 20-week post-fertilization abortion ban in Washington, D.C. was mostly devoid of any surprises. The testimony on behalf of the ban came from three medical professionals who all claimed despite all medical evidence to the contrary that a fetus can feel pain most definitely by 20 weeks gestation, with one neonatal intensive care nurse going as far as to say that they probably feel more pain than they do after they have been born because beforehand they are just “one big bundle of nerves.”
It is exactly the type of testimony bill sponsor Rep. Trent Franks was hoping for. All three of his expert witnesses made sure to give their medical credentials — former abortion practitioner, neo-natologist, OB-GYN. Not one of them mentioned their anti-choice affliations, their connections to groups such as Pro-Life Action League or, in the case of Dr. Calhoun, his role as board member for the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Rather than explain the alleged “science” proving fetal pain, Dr. Levantino explained in detail how a D&E would be performed, showing off tools that would “rip off” the limbs of baby and discussing how “you knew that was the brain” when “goo” came out. His scientific proof that the fetus suffered during it? “If you think that didn’t hurt, think again.”
Dr. Malloy, who did not mention her role as Medical Director of Women’s Choice Services Crisis Pregnancy Center in Illinois, testified that she often had preemies at 24, 25 or 26 weeks gestation “bat” her hand away or cry when she tried to do intubations or IVs on them in the NICU, and that she saw pictures of fetuses in the womb recoiling at the same gestational age, so they must be feeling the same type of pain.
And Dr. Calhoun discussed the number of parents who are much happier after giving birth and spending what little time they have with a child with a fatal anomaly in a hospice center. Dr. Calhoun is considered the founder of the “pro-life perinatal hospice movement.”
Although gripping testimony was given by D.C. resident Christy Zinks (D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton was denied the right to testify, as only one opposing witness was allowed), who was then almost completely ignored in the subsequent questioning period.
But the most riviting part of the hearing was when each of the “medical expert” backers of the ban explained that despite an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association saying a fetus cannot likely feel pain until third trimester, and a consensus from the entire Royal College of Obstetritians and Gyneacologists stating that the fetus does not have the connections in the cortex to feel pain prior to 24 weeks, each witness testified that he or she believed his or her medical view that a fetus feels pain in utero prior to 20 weeks is the real, majority medical consensus, and that the publications are lies.
“The JAMA article was written by a medical student, as well as a doctor who works with NARAL,” explains Dr. Levantino, apparently disregarding the idea of peer review to confirm evidence. Both sources, the witnesses agreed, were biased due to “politics.”
The committee has five days to consider the testimony and rule on whether the ban should be sent to the House for a vote, which will almost undoubtedly be yes. It is very likely that the Senate version, submitted by Utah Republican Mike Lee, will not make it out of committee.