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DUBLIN, Ireland (LifeSiteNews) – Politicians in Ireland are today debating a fetal pain relief bill, which would provide pain relief to an unborn baby about to be killed 20 weeks or more after conception if the abortionist thinks that the baby will endure pain from or during the abortion.  

The bill will have no impact on Ireland’s permissive abortion laws. 

The “Foetal Pain Relief Bill,” introduced to the Irish Parliament or Dáil Éireann in May 2021, will undergo its second stage of proceedings, as Members of Parliament (TDs) debate the legislation. Many further stages must completed before the bill can become law, as it must pass both the lower house and the upper house before finally being signed by pro-abortion president Michael Higgins 

Under the terms of the bill, when “there are reasonable grounds for believing” that a baby is 20 weeks or older, or “it is otherwise likely that pain would be caused” to the baby “during or arising from” the abortion itself, the abortionist must administer “an appropriate anaesthetic or analgesic so as to prevent or relieve as far as practicable any pain being caused to the foetus during or arising from the termination of pregnancy.”  

There is abundant evidence that children in the womb can feel pain, as unborn babies are developing their nervous systems by six weeks’ gestation. By eight weeks’ gestation, they physically respond to invasive medical procedures. 

Children aged only 18 weeks have been operated on while in the womb, and pain relief has been administered during the procedures.  

LifeSiteNews has compiled a detailed account of the baby’s development in the womb. 

Addressing Parliament when she introduced the potential new legislation in May, Independent TD Carol Nolan explained the bill:   

“Medical science has known for some time that unborn babies can experience pain from 20 weeks’ gestation. However, an increasing body of scientific research from about 2007 onwards has suggested that the brain and nervous system develop at a rate which means that unborn babies may feel pain as early as 13 weeks. The latest such study was published just last year in the Journal of Medical Ethics.”             

Ireland’s Pro-Life Campaign urged voters to contact their TDs to support the “modest measure,” highlighting that under Ireland’s current abortion law there is no requirement to give such pain relief to the baby being aborted.   

The bill itself was introduced by Carol Nolan and eleven other TDs, including Peadar Tóibín, leader of the Aontú party.   

joint statement issued from the cross-party of TDs declared: “Ensuring that no baby ever experiences pain or suffering that could be avoided is something that all people of goodwill must surely agree on.”  

However, the group acknowledged that the bill would have no impact on the abortion provision but would merely “ensure that no unborn baby is exposed to unnecessary pain and suffering during the abortion procedure.”  

Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson described the bill as “extremely modest in scope,” saying that “it is evident from the fact that pain relief is provided before doing surgery in the womb, that a baby at 20 weeks can most likely feel pain.”   

“Of course, introducing such measures doesn’t excuse the tragic injustice that is abortion, but failure to provide pain relief is an additional cruelty.”  

Indeed, while the bill was described as removing “unnecessary pain,” it nevertheless accompanies Ireland’s radical abortion laws which have seen over 13,700 babies killed since January 2019.  

John Smeaton, a director of Voice of the Family, told LifeSiteNews that while he “fully understands why pro-life groups would want to back such legislation,” he nevertheless “challenges its ethics.”  

“Are we not anaesthetizing the conscience of our legislators and fellow-citizens in calling for pain relief for unborn babies before they’re killed? Rather than save unborn lives, might such a measure lead to more killings on the basis that ‘they don’t feel a thing’?” Smeaton asked. 

“Would we join an international campaign calling on the Chinese government for the Uyghur population to be killed painlessly in response to the genocide reports coming from China? This is not a prudent approach to law-making, and it’s not the right road for the pro-life movement.” 

In 2018 Father Chris Hayden, of the diocese of Ferns, wrote in the Irish Times   that even debating about providing pain relief for babies who are being killed by abortion, showed “how far – and how terribly, terribly quietly – we’ve moved in the past few months,” since the abortion referendum in May of that year. 

Following the May 2018 vote, Irish voters repealed the 8th Amendment, which provided a constitutional right to life for the unborn. Ireland now has one of the most permissive abortion laws in the world.

Under the current law, abortion is legal for any reason up to 12 weeks. After that it is legal up to “viability” if there is risk of serious harm to the mother, a provision which accounts for the majority of abortions in neighboring England.  

Abortion till birth is also permitted in an “emergency,” or if the baby is thought likely to die 28 days after being born.