CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT (ABORTION) BILL
SECOND READING


CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT (ABORTION) BILL - SECOND READING
House:LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL- SECOND READING
Date:9.38 PM WEDNESDAY, 18 March 1998
Member:
Member:Dermer, Hon Ed
Subject:CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT (ABORTION) BILL - SECOND READING
Page:748 / 1

The report questions the view that a foetus cannot experience pain until well into the pregnancy. It suggests that distress might be relieved if painkillers were given before a transfusion.
      A team from Queen Charlotte's Hospital and Chelsea Hospital in London measured stress hormone levels in babies at between 20 and 34 weeks of gestation when doctors took blood samples from the umbilical cord and the foetal abdomen.
      When the needle was inserted through the abdomen and left for 10 minutes or more, as in a blood transfusion, the babies released stress hormones associated with the sensation of pain. The longer the needle stayed in the abdomen, a greater concentration of hormones was produced.
      When blood was taken from the site in the umbilical cord which is nerve-free, no such stress response was recorded.

You will need to forgive me, Mr Deputy President (Hon J.A. Cowdell), because I do not find this a cool and measured subject. It continues -
      The data suggested that the foetus mounted a hormonal stress response to invasive procedures, Professor Nicholas Fisk and a team of researchers wrote in the journal.
      It raised the possibility that the human foetus felt pain and could benefit from anaesthesia or analgesia for invasive procedures.
      Dr C. C. Fisher, director of obstetrics at the Royal Hospital for Women at Paddington, said the finding was not surprising. "If they are born at that time they feel pain, so why would they not feel pain inside the womb?"
      Professor Brian Trudinger, a Sydney University professor of obstetrics and gynaecology based at Westmead Hospital, also said there was an intuitive belief among his colleagues that foetuses of the ages mentioned felt pain, but the opportunity to study this had only emerged in the past five years.

The merest understanding of physiology would suggest that any being who has a central nervous system will feel pain. At a very early stage in the gestation period of a human being essential systems are developed. The pain referred to involved a blood transfusion. How much more pain must be inflicted on the unborn child by the great violence of an abortion procedure? The reception of the research to which I have just referred led to calls from people for the application of an anaesthetic to a foetus prior to abortion. I do not know if this call has been heeded by those who practise abortion. Any sense of humanity demands that this application of an anaesthetic to the victim of abortion be done. However, heeding the call for the application of an anaesthetic to the victim of abortion would mean that the doctor must confront the fact that the foetus is a living human being - an unborn child. Because I imagine that that confrontation would be very difficult, I fear the very worst. I fear that the children will continue to die in the most agonising pain.

The clearest description I have read of the pain suffered by a child subjected to abortion was contained in a letter from Helen Ng that was published in The West Australian on 16 February 1998. The letter is entitled "The Silent Scream". It reads -
      How many people realise who the real victims are in backyard abortions - the victims of all abortions?
      We are dealing with babies that have hearts that are able to beat three weeks after conception.
      They have eyes, fingers and toes by five weeks. Even to the atheist, is that not human enough?
      There is a video called The Silent Scream which shows on ultrasound a 10-week-old baby girl being aborted. It is the real thing. The abortionist, Dr Bernard Nathanson, produced the ultrasound out of curiosity.
      The baby was moving around sucking her thumb with a normal heart rate of 120. Then the instrument got the baby by the spine, then a leg and so on with the baby thrashing about in pain.
      The heart rate went higher than 200 and you could see it beating. The video gets its title The Silent Scream because the baby is observed during this stage to actually throw its head back and open its mouth.
      The killing process is ended when forceps appear and are used to crush and remove the head because it doesn't fit through the suction tubing. It took about 12-15 minutes to kill the baby.
      When Dr Nathanson saw the film he walked out of the clinic never to do another abortion.