Director, Commonwealth Policy Center

Good afternoon. My name is Richard Nelson, executive director of the Commonwealth Policy Center. I'm testifying on behalf of SB5—the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. I'll make my remarks very brief.  I do have handouts that provide further information.

We are in favor of this legislation because it is humane legislation based on good science. Medical experts tell us that the unborn feel pain around 20 weeks in utero. According to one medical expert, an unborn baby's experience of pain may actually be heightened between weeks 20 and 30. This is because the baby at this stage has more pain receptors per square inch than at any other time before or after birth.

Another reason for this bill is that pain inhibition is not fully developed until later. This means that any pain the unborn child experiences before these mechanisms form is likely worse than the pain an older child or adult experiences.

To those who would deny that unborn babies feel pain, then they must answer this question: If the unborn don’t feel pain, why is fetal anesthesia needed for in utero surgery at this very age of gestation?

7 US Code 1902 requires slaughterhouses to render all animals "insensible to pain" before handling or butchering. KRS 525.135 also has laws requiring that animals must be humanely treated. It is clear that we there is an incredible inconsistency here. If we claim to be a humane people and value human life, how can we treat animals with more dignity and sensitivity than we do for the most vulnerable member of the human race?

Listen to what Robert J. White, MD and professor of neurosurgery at Case Western Reserve University said "An unborn child at 20 weeks gestation “is fully capable of experiencing pain… Without question, [abortion] is a dreadfully painful experience for any infant subjected to such surgical procedure.”

There are currently 15 states with similar laws that have been enacted. One state law was struck down (ID). One is on appeal (GA) the rest remain unchallenged. My hope is that Kentucky will join these ranks and become a leader in restoring the sanctity of human life. Thank you.

Note: This testimony was given to the Senate Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection on January 4, 2017.