OKLAHOMA CITY – An Oklahoma House committee approved legislation Tuesday that would make it illegal to perform an abortion on an unborn child who is "capable of feeling pain."
House Bill 1888, named the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, would require abortion providers to decide the age of a fetus before an abortion. It would also make an abortion on an unborn child who is 20 or more weeks of age illegal.
"The days when an abortionist could dismiss an unborn child as just ‘a clump of cells' are long gone thanks to modern medical advances," said state Rep. Pam Peterson, R-Tulsa, who authored the bill. "This legislation takes into account the latest scientific research and provides greater safeguards for the humane treatment of unborn children who can clearly experience pain."
Situations in which the mother's life is at risk or if the mother faces "serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment" would be exempt under the law.
The bill comes on the heels of new medical research that shows an unborn child develops pain receptors throughout his/her entire body by no later than 16 weeks of age. According to a news release from Peterson, research also suggests "nerves linking receptors to the brain's thalamus and subcortical plate are present no later than 20 weeks."
"Current law requires more humane treatment of animals than of babies in the womb, yet there is no denying that an unborn child can feel pain and should not be subjected to it," Peterson said.
The bill now heads to the floor of the Oklahoma House.