The United States House of Representatives recently passed a bill that bans abortion after 20 weeks except in cases of rape, or incest, or threat to the life of the mother- supposedly to prevent abortions of fetuses that are capable of feeling pain. There’s a major issue with this: the scientific consensus is that fetuses cannot feel pain until much later in gestation. Systematic review of studies of fetal pain indicates that fetuses cannot feel pain until 29 to 30 weeks into gestation. This law, which could affect thousands of women, is based on sloppy interpretations of data at best and junk science at worst.
Despite the evidence, the House pressed forward with the passage of this legislation. While the passage of this bill highlights the disregard of data by the right wing, neglect of scientific evidence in crafting legislation occurs on both sides. This disregard for scientific facts is detrimental to the legislative process and has real consequences for American citizens. Legislation regarding healthcare should be informed by the best available scientific and medical evidence, not influenced by a political agenda. This particular bill is meant, instead, to leverage junk science to place additional, unnecessary, and burdensome restraints on a basic healthcare procedure.
In the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, ideological rationale is being falsely represented as “scientific”. We the Scientists cannot tolerate when legislation is written without respect for scientific evidence, especially when such legislation is a cynical attempt to make life more difficult under false pretenses.
Luckily, by the slimmest margin, the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act did not pass the Senate. If it had, it would have been signed into law by our President. We have to remember that bills like this one come up all too often, and we need to be vigilant for them in the future.