{{show_title_date || "Are 20-week abortion bans a sign of more to come?, 8/14/13, 12:44 PM ET"}}

The ‘science’ behind 20-week abortion bans


Already this year, we’ve seen the second-highest number of state-level abortion restrictions ever. Between fetal heartbeat bills, ambulatory surgical requirements, and mandatory ultrasounds, it’s hard to keep track of the latest efforts to chip away at Roe v. Wade, but the latest trend in anti-abortion legislation is now the 20-week ban.

Since 2010, the 20-week ban has now passed in nearly a dozen states across the country. But this isn’t just a state-level fringe fight. Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a 20-week abortion ban, the most restrictive effort to curb reproductive rights to come to a vote in Congress in a decade.

What’s really driving this particular movement, though, is a scientific theory that the fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks–a theory that has been refuted by the Journal of the American Medical Association and The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, among others.

Writing in the New York Times, Erik Eckholm says that anti-abortion advocates “saw the potential of such a measure because it taps into public concern about late-stage abortions, appears to alter the rules only incrementally, and claims to be rooted in science.”

On Wednesday, Dr. Anne Davis of Columbia University Medical Center, NARAL Pro-Choice America’s Ilyse Hogue and Salon’s Katie McDonough joined NOW with Alex Wagner to discuss the “science” behind fetal pain and the national movement to chip away at a woman’s right to choose.

The 'science' behind 20-week abortion bans