Today, Republicans in the Minnesota Legislature introduced a new bill, which would ban abortion after 20 weeks’ gestation. It is the strictest abortion bill to be introduced. If it passes, women would be unable to obtain an abortion past 20 weeks’ gestation unless the mother’s life was in immediate danger.
This bill is very similar to the bill passed in Nebraska last October. A heartbreaking story resulted from that bill: Nebraska Couple Watches Their Baby Die Due to New Law. However, there is a lot more to this debate.
These new abortion bills are based on new research that suggest that fetuses can feel pain by 20 weeks’ gestation. Although, older research suggests that fetuses don’t feel pain until 24 – 28 weeks’ gestation. Doctors are currently unsure exactly when fetuses can feel pain but their decision on when to abort is based on what they believe to be true.
Babies are not considered “viable” (able to live outside the uterus) until 24 weeks’ gestation, and even then only with a significant amount of medical help. The “youngest” baby ever to survive was born at 21 weeks, 6 days gestation (see her picture and story here). She weighed under 10 oz. and was only 9.5″ long. Her mother lied about her gestational age, saying she was 23 weeks, 6 days, so that doctors would not let her baby die. The little girl, named Amilia, is now 18 months old and perfectly healthy. This, too, has fueled the debate — if a baby so young can survive, is it okay to abort babies of the same age?
Other women say that the lawmakers have no business telling them what to do with their babies and their bodies, and many are thinking of the terrible circumstances faced by Danielle Deaver.
This debate isn’t over, and the answer isn’t easy. What do you think about the new abortion laws?
Top image by Cesar Rincon