Trebilcock Says Informed Consent Law Should Include Information on Fetal Pain
Thursday, State Rep. John Trebilcock said he intends to introduce legislation expanding Oklahoma’s recently passed informed consent law in light of a recent study claiming fetuses do not feel pain until the seventh month of development.
“Our current informed consent law needs to include information explaining to mothers the truth about fetal pain before they make a decision to end a pregnancy,” said Trebilcock, R-Tulsa. “Women need to be provided every bit of information available so that they can make an informed decision when considering abortion.”
During the 2005 legislative session, Trebilcock co-authored House Bill 1686, which established an informed consent law in Oklahoma. The law requires that women be given all pertinent information about fetal development, the potential consequences of abortion and the gestational age of the unborn child, at least 24 hours before receiving an abortion.
Trebilcock said the law needs to be expanded to require that information on fetal pain be given to expectant mothers before receiving an abortion.Trebilcock also criticized the report in the Journal of the American Medical Association, saying the researchers did not reveal their ties to abortion rights organizations and abortion clinics when the story was published.
In the report, several University of California-San Francisco researchers claimed their research data indicated that fetuses likely are incapable of feeling pain until around the seventh month, when they are about 28 weeks along. The research group included a medical student who has worked for an abortion rights group and the director of a clinic that provides abortions.
“This research is obviously biased toward protecting abortion rights based on the researchers’ ties to organizations that support abortion and clinics that provide them,” said Trebilcock. “Isn’t it convenient that this report comes in the middle of proposed legislation that would harm their cause? “Furthermore, the researchers only examined existing medical studies and commented on those instead of conducting their own scientific research. This report is a joke borne out of a political agenda and nothing else.”
The report was published as Congress and several state legislatures consider legislation that would require doctors to provide fetal pain information to women seeking abortions when fetuses are at least 20 weeks old, and to offer women fetal anesthesia at that stage of the pregnancy.
Several states have enacted fetal-pain laws and others are considering legislation. Arkansas, which enacted the first law this year, requires physicians to discuss pain issues with their patients.
In a document accepted as expert by a federal court, Dr. Kanwaljeet S. Anand, a pain researcher who holds several tenured chairs in pediatrics and anesthesiology at the University of Arkansas, said, “It is my opinion that the human fetus possesses the ability to experience pain from 20 weeks of gestation, if not earlier, and that pain perceived by a fetus is possibly more intense than that perceived by newborns or older children.”
Researchers who claim fetal pain can be felt earlier in development note the release of stress hormones and movement of the fetus in response to painful stimuli.
The National Right to Life, an organization that seeks to ban abortion, reports that approximately 18,000 abortions are performed after 20 weeks of gestation each year.
Contact: State Rep. John TrebilcockCapitol: (405) 557-7362Broken Arrow: (918) 594-0441