U.S. women seeking abortions will be told their fetuses might feel pain

Doctors in the state of Wisconsin would have to tell women seeking abortions in their 20th week of pregnancy or later that their fetuses might feel pain, an assertion debated in the medical community, under a bill passed by state lawmakers. Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, promised to veto the legislation, which the Assembly passed 61-34 Tuesday and the Senate passed earlier.

"Medical decisions should be made by you and your doctor, not you, your doctor and the Legislature," said Doyle spokesman Dan Leistikow.

Abortion has been legal in the United States since a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1973, but the procedure remains controversial and states have put varying restrictions on how it can be carried out.

Women seeking abortions in Wisconsin must receive information on alternatives to ending their pregnancies and must wait 24 hours after a counseling session to have the procedure.

The bill would add a new requirement for women at least 20 weeks pregnant: Doctors would have to say the fetuses have the physical structures necessary to experience pain and that abortions can cause substantial pain to a fetus.

Supporters say some research supports those assertions; critics say none has been proven, according to the AP.

"Some of us want people to know so they think before they do something that they will regret for the rest of their life," said Republican Assembly Speaker John Gard. "I don't think it's too much to ask."

Three states have similar requirements and federal legislation is pending in Congress, the National Conference of State Legislatures said.

Lawmaker Sheldon Wasserman, a Democrat who is a gynecologist and obstetrician, said most major medical associations oppose the legislation.

"The medical authorities say it's junk," Wasserman said.


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