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[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Implications of fetal pain legislation on the health of women

Alissa Perrucci, PhD, MPH, Provider Services Division, California Family Health Council, Inc., 2550 Ninth Street, Suite 110, Berkeley, CA 94710, (510) 486-0412 x2316, perruccia@cfhc.org

Both the federal government and many state governments are considering legislation on the prevention of fetal pain during abortion. These laws require that physicians inform the woman of the potential for fetal pain and to offer her anesthesia to relieve such pain. Current scientific consensus, however, does not conclude that the fetus can experience pain in the same manner as a child or adult. More importantly, the methods for administering anesthesia to the fetus increase the medical risks to the pregnant woman without known clinical benefit to the fetus. As such, lawmakers have taken a definitive stance in an area of science that is, at best, incomplete, and have dictated to physicians the parameters of caring for and advising their patients. This paper explores the implications of these regulations on the health and well-being of the pregnant woman. Highlighted is the inflammatory language contained in the informed consent scripts that physicians are obligated to read to patients. This paper demonstrates how these laws violate the principles of informed consent and inhibit the physician's ability to practice medicine in accordance with standards of practice and medical science. The paper concludes by exploring the potentially negative impact of fetal pain legislation on access to second trimester abortion care.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Abortion, Health Law

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No

[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Public Health Aspects of Second Trimester Abortion Care

The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA