Posted by Social Media Intern Michelle Auster
The City of Albuquerque may be facing a new anti-abortion measure on the October 8 city ballot. The “Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Ordinance” — which would ban abortions after 20 weeks — is justified by the false claim that fetuses can feel pain.
Fortunately, nonprofits and dedicated activists in Albuquerque are standing up to the legislation through a coalition called Respect ABQ Women. “Every pregnancy is different and this one-size-fits-all approach disregards the individual circumstances surrounding a woman’s pregnancy,” ABQ states on their website. “The decision whether to have an abortion is complex, and we should trust a woman to make the best decision for herself and her family in these situations.”
It’s also important to note that claims that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks, though a popular way for anti-choicers to appeal to people’s emotional responses, are wrong. Scientists have actually found that fetuses do not feel pain at 20 weeks of gestation. Katie McDonough has written an excellent article on how the “logic” behind this bill is severely misinformed. “And what we know in terms of the brain and the nervous system in a fetus is that the part of the brain that perceives pain is not connected to the part of the body that receives pain signals until about 26 weeks from the last menstrual period, which is about 24 weeks from conception,” she explains.
This bill is the latest in a trend toward 20-week abortion bans all over the country. Bills like the one proposed in Albuquerque rely on rhetoric that is emotionally charged but unsupported by science, and perhaps worst of all, places a fetus’s welfare over a woman’s. McDonough also points out some pretty damning medical complications that could result from these bills. Her findings show that legislation like this doesn’t actually prevent fetuses from feeling pain — since fetuses don’t feel pain at 22 weeks — but is really about interfering with a woman’s private medical decisions and timely access to healthcare:
But laws like Texas’ 20-week ban eliminate a physician’s ability to be adaptive to the unique circumstances of their patients’ health. Instead, nominal exceptions for the health and life of the mother in these laws can make otherwise safe abortions dangerous by forcing doctors to wait until their patient’s condition deteriorates before they can legally act to terminate a pregnancy and save their lives.
We need to remember that every pregnancy is unique, and subject to changes and complications at any moment. Respect ABQ Women knows this, and is trying to spread the message and prevent legislation like this from becoming law in their city. Listen to the facts, and let doctors be doctors. We do not want to see this all becoming an example of how anti-choicers can make ridiculous pseudoscientific claims and get away with it. You can show your support for Albuquerque women by Signing the Pledge to stand with them, or following #RespectABQWomen on Twitter.