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Nebraska and the Falsehood of Fetal Pain

Written by Susan Yanow for - News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

In August I cheered the injunction against Nebraska's so called “Women's Health Protection Act.”  This misleadingly named law would have required physicians to present all research about possible health risks related to abortion, even if the information is outdated, false or misleading, to every woman seeking an abortion.  Stopping that law was a victory. But Nebraska is not done with its attacks on women’s rights.

On October 15, Nebraska will enact another law that will have a chilling impact on women’s abortion access.  This law will ban abortions 20 weeks after conception or later, with exceptions only in cases of medical emergency, the pregnant woman’s imminent death, or a serious risk of “substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.”  The bill is based on unsubstantiated and misleading “science” that claims that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks.  It is also the first law in the country to exclude a woman’s mental health as a reason for an abortion.  Before this law is replicated in other states, advocates have to prepare us to fight this blatant attack on our right to abortion.

As advocates, we need to be able to talk about the reliable science of fetal pain and the connection between physical and mental health. We need to educate others, and ourselves and combat the use of pseudoscience and unsubstantiated “facts” as tools in the war to limit access to abortion. Read more

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