ST. PAUL, Minnesota, March 9, 2011 ( – Pro-life leaders have introduced legislation in both chambers of the Minnesota state legislature that would ban abortion after 20 weeks gestation on the basis that an unborn child feels pain by that point.

Sen. Gretchen Hoffman (R-Vergas) and Rep. Mary Liz Holberg (R-Lakeville) each introduced the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act in the state Senate and House of Representatives. The bill is premised on medical evidence that suggests an unborn child is capable of experiencing pain at 20 weeks since conception, if not earlier.

“For far too long, Minnesota’s abortionists have been inflicting unconscionable suffering on unborn babies by killing them when they are already extraordinarily developed and pain-sensitive,” said Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL). “It is illegal to treat animals in such a brutal way; this bill will finally protect unborn children at 20 weeks and older from the torturous pain of abortion.”

Modeled on the fetal pain abortion ban enacted in Nebraska, the proposed law requires abortionists to perform tests and determine the gestational age of an unborn child before committing an abortion.

The proposed Minnesota law only allows an exception if an abortionist certifies that continuing pregnancy carries a serious risk of death or “substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.” The law specifically excludes emotional or psychological factors from being considered.

The measure also specifies that an abortionist ending a pregnancy after 20 weeks gestation must actually try to deliver the unborn baby in a way that gives the child the best opportunity to survive outside the womb. Only if delivery or other methods to save the unborn child’s life “pose a greater risk either of the death of the pregnant woman or of the substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function” would abortion be permitted.

The measure says abortionists who violate the law may face both civil and criminal penalties. Abortionists who intentionally or recklessly violate the law would face felony charges.

The bills also provide for a legal defense fund to which both the legislature and private citizens may contribute.

However, the bill is staunchly opposed by Democrat-Farmer-Labor Gov. Mark Dayton, who has promised to veto the legislation if it passes both chambers of the GOP-controlled legislature.

“I can assure you that nothing as extreme that violates that basic fundamental right – and it is a Constitutional right as established by the United States Supreme Court – will be enacted with my signature,” said Dayton, according to the Minnesota Star-Tribune. “It will not happen here in Minnesota.”

While Republicans control the legislature, the Star-Tribune reported that several GOP sources say they are hoping pro-life DFLers would give them the two-thirds majorities in both chambers to override Dayton’s veto.