“Fetal Pain”: The First Thing on Rick Perry’s Desk?

The Governor will hold a press conference with Texas Right to Life in Houston today to personally offer his support for more restrictions on abortion in the state. 
Tue December 11, 2012 7:30 pm
Flickr | Texas Governor Rick Perry

Is the Texas lege about to get a sequel to  last session’s sonogram bill, and the first emergency item of 2013?

Officially, the latter cannot happen until January. But today in Houston, Governor Rick Perry may well start the ball rolling on new abortion restrictions in the state, as these tweets last night from Evan Smith and Emily Ramshaw of the Texas Tribune suggested:

Plans for the “fetal pain” bill were  announced by Texas Right to Life on November 13, calling it “the flagship Pro-Life bill for the next session.” As yet unfiled (which could change today), it is expected to propose that Texas join several other states in banning abortion after a woman has been pregnant 20 weeks, instead of at the third trimester. 

“We’re looking at a big pro-life majority in the House and in the Senate, so we ought to expect some big pro-life accomplishments,” state Rep. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) told Chuck Lindell of the Austin American-Statesman. As Lindell noted:

The basic right to an abortion, set out in a 1973 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, still stands, leaving opponents to chip away at the legal edges in hopes of limiting access to the procedure.

According to Texas Right to Life:

The general medical consensus is that the developing human pre-born child is capable of experiencing torturous pain at 20 weeks post-fertilization.  These scientific findings are based on anatomical, behavioral, and physiological  neuro-stimuli.  The science of pre-born pain sets the standard of care for pre-born children who undergo surgery in  utero.

The Tribune’s Becca Aaronson and Audrey White wrote about the potential bill in late November, noting that “a study by the Journal of the American Medical Association published in 2005 found ‘evidence regarding the capacity for fetal pain is limited but indicates that fetal perception

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