4/20: ‘Fetal pain’ bill debate continues

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

The “fetal pain bill” passed by the General Assembly awaits Gov. Nathan Deal’s signature. But that hasn’t stopped the debate over the proposed law, which would restrict abortion after 20 weeks.

A local doctor suggests the law may in effect make abortions safer for women and cites data to back it up.

On the other side, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood in Atlanta writes that the law is just the next step in Georgia’s march to further restrict women’s rights when it comes to abortion.

20 comments Add your comment


April 21st, 2012
10:54 am


The information you seek was edited out of the column for space reasons. At or after 21 week abortions have a higher death rate than do term live births across the board. The older the mother is the greater the risk of having a complication and death from either an abortion or term live birth. The experts, who have done the statistical analysis, all agree that at or after 21 week abortions should be reserved for medically necessary abortions due to the excessive risks. Regardless of the motivation and reasoning of the State Legislature (which was mentioned in my article), the bill will do exactly as my column suggests: reduce the mortality rate of abortions in Georgia by making non-medically necessary abortions be only done when it is safest. What pro-choice advocates will need to do is inform women that non-medically necessary abortions can only be done in the first five months of gestation for safety reasons. For practical purposes, this is what is already being done by most obstetricians. Therefore, the twenty week rule will not significantly impact how the overwhelming majority of abortions are done in Georgia but will reduce the risker later term abortions.

@Bob Loblaw
The bill only covers abortions at or after 20 weeks. It makes the exemptions for futile pregnancies and the health of the mother. Mentally disabled women will have the same rights for abortion prior to 20 weeks gestation as they currently have.
The most common complication for at or after 21 week abortions by far is bleeding. It occurs from perforation of the uterus by instruments used in the procedure or fetal bones, uterine atony where the uterus fails to contract adequately, or disseminated intravascular coagulation from amniotic fluid embolization. This may lead to emergency hysterectomies, exposure to numerous blood products with their viral risks, infection, blood clots to their lungs and legs, and pelvic scarring/adhesions with later complications resulting from them. The psychological impact of having an abortion go bad is significant, but there is no reliable data to describe its incidence and severity. Your statement that nothing in this bill promotes safety is not consistent with the facts as presented in my article. Suggesting to women that they have up to 24 weeks to have a safe abortion is very misleading. The risks (not just death) skyrocket at or after 21 weeks.

Bob Loblaw

April 21st, 2012
9:28 am


The issue of bleeding after a surgical procedure, be it one to remove a tumor or in this case, the awful scenario of an unborn child after 21 weeks getstation, is a post-op issue. While the good doctor may be an excellent choice to discuss dangers to the mother, he could have been better used during the process of drafting the legislation. The protection to the health of the mother was unconstitutionally weakened in the “fetal pain” bill. No longer could a severally mentally disabled woman’s health even be a consideration in determining whether she would qualify for an exception to the rule. She could have been raped and not have the mental capacity to remember or know she is pregnant and once she “shows,” and any reasonable person could tell she won’t be able to raise a child, tough. Baby’s coming. The word “health” [of the mother] that has served physicians well for almost 40 years is now a 15+ word definition that literally will require a doctor to wait until a pregnant woman is “sick enough” to have an abortion.

There is nothing in this bill that promoted patient safety. But, you’d need an Obstetrician to explain that to you on the front end. Not a hemotologist, no matter how experienced this fine physician may be at post-op bleeding control, to explain patient safety issues relating to the “fetal pain” bill.


April 20th, 2012
8:24 pm

I wonder if it would have been possible for the AJC to use a obstetrician, preferable female, but at least an obstetrician for this column. Dr. Braunstein’s column was a wonderful example of obfuscation of the reasons behind the endless attempt of the Georgia Assembly to make it harder for women to obtain an abortion. Although he mentioned the maternal death rate from full-term births was considerably higher compared with deaths caused by abortion before 20 weeks, he neglected to compare maternal death rates from full-term births and deaths caused by abortion after 20 weeks. Maybe a comparison of full-term pregnancies and abortions of women over 35 would be useful. Maybe a table showing mortality rates of teenage mothers who go full-term and those who choose to abort. Pregnancies are also not equal, and often they are dangerous to both mother and child. Fetal pain, my eye. You don’t think the infant is in pain during delivery?


April 20th, 2012
5:55 pm

“Does the Fetus have Rights?”

Another argument…is the one that says a woman has the right to do whatever she wants with her body, and therefore she has the right to terminate the life of her child inside her womb. The fetus inside the womb is not a normal, natural, and integral part of the female body. All the women I know or have read about were not born with a fetus inside her womb as a part of her anatomy. All the rest of her anatomy, her entire body and appendages, are there as natural parts of her, but not a fetus. So how can these pro-abortion group claim that a fetus is a part of the woman’s body, and, therefore, a pregnant woman has the right to “cut it out” at her whim, like her hair, or her nails? The woman has the right to mutilate her own body, cut off her limbs or her head off, if she so chooses, because that’s her own body and her own life. But the fetus is not a natural part of a woman’s anatomy, and is another life….

Read full commentary at

www DOT cebudoctorsuniversity.edu/colleges/medicine/hospital/cardio/chua41 DOT html


April 20th, 2012
5:51 pm

Why is my comment at 3:56 in moderation?

Charles A Jones Jr. (Athens)

April 20th, 2012
5:13 pm

When I wrote that Georgia ranks second in the nation in numbers of late-term abortions committed, someone asked me to cite the source for that statistic, which is a fair request. That comes from the Centers for Disease Control’s abortion data for 2008, which is the last year for which data is available. According to the CDC, 1,208 abortions were performed at 21 weeks of gestation or more in Georgia in 2008. That’s second only to New York, where 2,708 late-term abortions were performed in that year. The report is readily available at the agency’s website.

Someone else writes: “Charles A Jones, Jr, the day you have a womb is the day it is any business of yours. Until that day comes, it is my womb, my choice.” On the contrary. As I understand it, it ordinarily takes two to make a baby. (Please do not ask me to cite a source for that!) Not only are male babies the victims of abortion too, but every baby, male or female, who is the victim of abortion is some man’s baby. And psychologists understand that abortion has a very traumatic impact on men as well. Thus, this is a men’s issue – as I was very glad to have the opportunity to share with the members of the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee when I spoke in support of this bill.

There may come a day when women just spontaneously become pregnant as a matter of course and that the baby is not a man’s baby as well. But it is not today.


April 20th, 2012
5:01 pm

15 to 20% of all pregnacies end in spontaneous abortions(miscarrages). If you are a Christian, you must believe God knows this since not even a sparrow falls without God’s knowledge, according to the New Testament. If you believe in Fetal pain, you must believe that some of these unborn feel pain at the time of these miscarrages. You must also acknowledge God knows about this pain and does nothing.


April 20th, 2012
3:29 pm

@ Bob Loblaw
April 20th, 2012
9:26 am

Dr. Braunstein is well qualified to respond because of his “experience in taking care of the vast majority of bleeding complications of late-term abortions in Atlanta since 1983.” Take a couple of minutes to do a background check on him. The AJC did.


April 20th, 2012
3:25 pm

The doctor’s attempt to justify the law as providing safety for women is condescending and implies women can’t work with their doctors to evaluate the risks and make appropriate medical decisions.

Further, if just over 1% of abortions are performed at or after 21 weeks (as the doctor cites), has he considered that it’s probably because they were necessary at that point? The woman probably didn’t just wake up and say “Hmm, I’ve been pregnant for 21 weeks and I think I want an abortion now.” In other words, the woman didn’t and perhaps couldn’t know sooner that an abortion was the right option.

There are examples of medical problems that don’t crop up within 20 weeks. Go to Planned Parenthood Federation’s website to read the tragic story of a Nebraska mom whose second pregnancy ended when her water broke at about 22 weeks, causing the fetus to slowly die. Nebraska had a ban on abortions after 20 weeks, so she had to wait until the “birth.” Imagine the fetal pain in that situation, not to mention the pain of the parents.

The fact that so few abortions are even done after 20 weeks shows this law for what it is – a mean attempt to condescend to women and continue to cut away at our ability to make our health care decisions.

Betty Bloop

April 20th, 2012
1:50 pm

The idea this is about womens reproductive rights is just a lie. They should be more concerned with contraceptives than high cost medical procedures

Why don’t men care more about the children that are already BORN than they are about a fetus? Pay your child support. Maybe then women wouldn’t feel the need to abort their fetuses if they knew the father of the child would be just as diligent with their support payments as they are with dumping them with S*p*e*r*m.


@ Trisha – Your alzheimers must be kickingin big time today. Please don’t forget your meds………