NRL News


by | Sep 1, 2011

WASHINGTON – An Idaho law protecting unborn children who are capable of feeling pain from abortion has been challenged in the U.S. District Court for Idaho. The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act was passed by the Idaho state legislature by overwhelming majorities earlier this spring. In passing the law, the legislature determined that there is substantial medical evidence concluding that unborn children are capable of experiencing pain and that the state has a compelling state interest in protecting these pain-capable children.

“Unborn children recoil from painful stimuli, their stress hormones increase when they are subjected to any painful stimuli, and they require anesthesia for fetal surgery,” said Mary Spaulding Balch, J.D., director of state legislation for the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC). “We are confident that the Supreme Court will ultimately agree and will recognize the right of the state to protect these children from the excruciatingly painful death of abortion.”

A significant number of scientific studies support the state’s conclusion that unborn babies are capable of feeling pain by twenty weeks (20) weeks after fertilization. On average, 18,000 abortions are performed every year in the United States on these pain-capable children, including at some Planned Parenthood clinics. An online library of research and further information is available at

The complaint in the case claims that the law fails to contain a constitutionally acceptable exception allowing for an abortion if necessary to preserve the health of the mother. That contention is rebutted by Dr. Sean Patrick Kenney, M.D., a board certified obstetrician/gynecologist, and assistant clinical professor at Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Nebraska.

“The language of the law makes fully adequate provision for those rare cases, probably occurring no more than 1-2 times per 5,000 births, when medical complications require premature delivery or abortion of an unborn child after the stage at which the child is capable of feeling pain,” noted Dr. Kenney.

Categories: Legislation