A new Utah law requiring abortion providers to administer anesthesia to a woman if she is having an abortion at or after 20 weeks of pregnancy is the first of its kind in the nation and it is a reckless intrusion of a state legislature into the practice of medicine. In order to assure the best possible care for patients, decisions about what type of pain medication or anesthesia to administer should be made by medical professionals, not by state legislators.
The bill, signed into law by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert last month, requires an anesthetic or analgesic be administered “to eliminate or alleviate organic pain to the unborn child” — even though reputable scientific research, backed by mainstream groups such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, indicates that a fetus doesn’t have the capability to feel pain until sometime in the third trimester, which starts at 24 weeks. But at that point, most abortions are banned in Utah. In other words, the law calls on doctors to use anesthesia in order to solve a non-existent problem.
The law has some exceptions. Anesthesia is unnecessary if it will kill or irreversibly harm the woman or if the fetus being aborted has a diagnosable “defect” and is likely to die. (Apparently, the legislators believe those fetuses are not capable of feeling pain.)
It’s bad enough that states pass laws that restrict access to abortion, often unconstitutionally. To dictate how doctors practice medicine is unconscionable.