To: House Human Services Committee
Subject: SB 2368 Abortion After Ability to Feel Pain
Date: March 13, 2013

The North Dakota Catholic Conference supports Senate Bill 2368.

Senate Bill 2368 reflects a basic truth: “The respect given to an individual human person must always be first and must govern every law and action so that the person’s life and dignity is always and everywhere protected and defended.” (Bishop David D. Kagan, October 19, 2012.)

Senate Bill 2368 would prohibit only abortions where after twenty weeks -- the time we know the unborn child can feel pain. Currently, the US Supreme Court only allows states to protect unborn life after the point of viability, which is when an unborn child can survive outside the womb.  The Supreme Court chose viability because it understood viability to be a significant marker of human development.  Close reflection, however, reveals that viability is not really a measure of human development. It is only a measure of the medical technology available to a newborn, and as technology improves, viability changes.  Viability as a marker is inherently suspect and unjust because it is dependent upon time, place, and circumstance.

The ability to feel pain, however, is a marker that actually reflects the development of the unborn child. It is wrong that the courts will only allow states to protect some unborn children and not all of them.  However, if the courts insist on only allowing protections for unborn children that are developed to a certain extent, the ability to feel pain provides a better basis than viability. 

We urge Do Pass recommendation on Senate Bill 2368.