Nebraska has collectively given in to Faith-Based Reasoning and directly contradicted the scientific consensus in a new law. The state legislature has decided it knows more than scientists, and ruled that fetuses at 20 weeks are capable of feeling pain.
Mark Rosen is a scientist who studies fetal pain. He’s got lots of peer reviewed, scientific data, and sent it to the Nebraska legislature. So we know they didn’t pass the law out of ignorance. They did it out of willful disregard for the truth.
The first brain pathways associated with pain perception “are not complete before approximately 29 weeks of gestation”, so although fetuses develop brain wiring from about 23 weeks onwards, the connections are not there to enable them to experience pain.
There is scant evidence or opinion to the contrary in the scientific community, but it does exist. One theory is that before nerves for pain reception are completely formed in the cortex, the subcortex is formed well enough that IF fetuses feel pain through the subcortex, they might feel pain.
However, this theory hardly matters, since fetuses are typically given an anesthetic to prevent harm to the mother from involuntary fetal responses. Additionally, in abortions where the heart is functional, the fetus is given either digoxin or potassium chloride before the procedure, so feeling pain is simply not an issue in any case.
There isn’t much of a mystery as to what this is about. It’s clearly not about scientific accuracy, and it’s clearly furthering the political (religious) agenda for banning abortion in as many cases as possible. But why Nebraska? The most obvious answer is that Nebraska is where LeRoy Carhart practices. He’s an abortion provider who is willing to do late term abortions. So this legislation is directly targeting him. If he does not sue, his late-term practice will be shut down. If he does sue, the case could end up first in the Nebraska Supreme Court, and then the U.S. Supreme Court. Roe v. Wade is still not safe.