In May, the Florida Senate’s Health and rehabilitative Services Committee defeated Senate Bill 447 which sought to provide that a physician, before performing an abortion, “shall inform the woman…that an anesthetic or analgesic is available to abolish or alleviate organic pain caused to the fetus by the procedure.”

The bill had been introduced in response to recent discoveries in the rapidly growing field of fetology. Modern techniques of amniocentesis, fetoscopy and ultrasonography have revealed that the fetus is an active, sentient being that responds to various stimuli in an appropriate manner, from the earliest stages of fetal development.

Inferring from these responses that the fetus is capable of feeling pain, sponsors of the fetal pain bill sought to allow that fetuses be killed in a humane way.

Supporters of the bill argued that fetuses, even if they are not legal persons, deserve the same kind of protection afforded animals under the Florida statutes which forbid the cruel treatment of animals. However, the defeated bill would not have required that the fetus be anesthetized before the abortion, only that its mother be informed of the option.

One of those testifying before the committee in support of the bill was Rosemary Bottcher, a member of Feminists for Life of America. In her testimony, Ms Bottcher stated that passage of the bill would undoubtedly reduce the suffering of the fetus whose mother decided to allow anesthetization, and that this alone made the bill worthy. However, she also said that the bill would, in the long run reduce the suffering of the mothers of those fetuses as well.

“Unfortunately,” she said, “most women who have abortions do so without adequate knowledge of the medical, social and moral significance of the procedure. They have been deceived by the chicanery of the abortion mentality, which seeks to obscure clear thinking by the use of such precious euphemisms as “uterine contents,” “products of conception” and “pregnancy tissue” when referring to the fetus. Abortion is compared to having a tooth pulled or a mole removed. By an amazing example of Alice-in-Wonderland logic, women are told that no fetus is a human being – or even alive – unless his mother thinks he is.

“Of course, women troubled by an unwanted pregnancy desperately want to believe this. It confronts them to think that no one is hurt in an abortion, that no one dies.

“Critics of this bill complain that it will hinder a woman’s right to choose; that if a woman is told that her fetus is sentient, it will be too difficult for her to go through with her decision to abort. In short, women should have the right to remain ignorant.

“It is important to note that the bill does not require that a woman allow her fetus to be anesthetized, only that she be given the option. Of course, some women don’t care, and will reject any procedure that increases the risk and expense to themselves. Other women will care  – very much. These women will at least have some small comfort in knowing that even though they have chosen to deny their children life, they have at least granted them a painless death.”