It started with Nebraska. Idaho, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Indiana recently followed suit. The laws, with names like the "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Act," ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The latest wave of a broader conservative push to restrict abortion access nationwide, the measures are premised on the idea that fetuses can feel pain at this stage in gestation and should therefore be afforded state protections. Based on dubious science, some of the laws are bound to face legal challenges. For anti-abortion crusaders, this may be precisely the point.
Last week, Minnesota passed its own fetal pain bill (though the state's Democratic governor is expected to veto it)—and at least 11 other states, from Florida to Oregon, have considered similar bans. In most states, abortions are legal through the second trimester of pregnancy—up to 24 weeks—and in some cases longer when the mother's life is at risk. Despite what proponents of fetal pain legislation say, abortions performed after 20 weeks are exceedingly rare. Only 23 percent of abortion providers even offer them; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that just 1.4 percent of abortions occur at 21 weeks or beyond. Often a woman seeking an abortion later in her pregnancy does so because of a life-threatening medical problem, or a fetal abnormality that has only recently become apparent.
According to a pair of Harvard researchers who have studied fetal pain bills, the 20-week bans are neither scientifically nor constitutionally sound. In a recent paper in The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, Glenn Cohen of Harvard Law School and Sadath Sayeed of Harvard Medical School note that there is no conclusive evidence that fetuses can feel pain at that point in gestation, nor are they considered viable.
Democracy Gone Astray
Democracy, being a human construct, needs to be thought of as directionality rather than an object. As such, to understand it requires not so much a description of existing structures and/or other related phenomena but a declaration of intentionality.
This blog aims at creating labeled lists of published infringements of such intentionality, of points in time where democracy strays from its intended directionality. In addition to outright infringements, this blog also collects important contemporary information and/or discussions that impact our socio-political landscape.
All the posts here were published in the electronic media – main-stream as well as fringe, and maintain links to the original texts.
[NOTE: Due to changes I haven't caught on time in the blogging software, all of the 'Original Article' links were nullified between September 11, 2012 and December 11, 2012. My apologies.]