Today, the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services is hearing testimony on SB 291, legislation which would make September "Pain Awareness Month."
The advancement of this legislation should move us all to reflect on the connection between pain relief and the value of human life.
Since the age of the Enlightenment when the "right to life" was made the bedrock of American society, the humanitarian virtues of that age have driven the medical community to relieve the pain and suffering of their patients at all stages of life. As historians have noted, enlightenment ideas such as compassion and the worth of human life eventually propelled the medical community to develop anesthesia.
Today, the pediatric profession continues to raise awareness about the importance of pain relief in the smallest among us. Last month, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement on the prevention and management of pain experienced by premature babies.
As AP reports, "It used to be thought that these infants were too young to feel pain. But even now, experts say, pain relief for newborns and especially preemies is often inadequate, despite evidence that low-tech comforting methods and medication can both be effective."
Newborn specialist Erin Keels of Columbus' own Nationwide Children's Hospital was the lead author of the Academy's policy.
Almost a year ago, Ohio Right to Life submitted 70 studies to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, confirming that pre-born babies begin feeling pain as late as 20 weeks gestation. With this information, the Senate passed Ohio's Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban abortions when babies can feel pain.
Indeed, by 20 weeks gestation, pain receptors are present throughout the baby’s entire body, first appearing around 6-7 weeks gestation. The Academy's new policy is based on research of preemies as young as 25 weeks. In Ohio, unborn children can still be aborted up to 24 weeks gestation.
As Democratic Senators raise awareness about the pain and suffering of Americans and the American Academy of Pediatrics responds to the pain of the premature baby, the pro-life community must respond as well--not to anesthetize the unborn child; but to prevent them from ever undergoing the painful and unnecessary destruction that is abortion.
Our responsiveness to the pain experienced by the most vulnerable among us is indeed reflective of our compassion, our integrity, and our strength in making decisions that protect and advance all human life.
Today, we urge you to sign Ohio Right to Life's petition to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.
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