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Kansas Senator Sam Brownback reintroduced a bill on Wednesday that requires abortionists to notify women who want abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy that their unborn baby can likely experience extreme pain.

Following the bill's introduction came mystifying news that pro-abortion advocate Frances Kissling, president of "Catholics" for a Free Choice (CFFC), was offering conditional support for the proposed legislation.

The Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act requires the abortionist to verbally inform and to provide a brochure to the woman seeking an abortion about the medical evidence of pain experienced by an unborn child 20 weeks after fertilization. The proposed law also requires that the pregnant woman be given the option of providing anesthesia for the unborn baby.

On the same day as the bill's introduction Kissling released a statement saying CFFC could support an amended version of the legislation because their "principles in regard to abortion include both respect for a woman's right to choose abortion and a commitment to treating fetuses with respect." To gain CFFS' unqualified support, Kissling said the bill would have to include a provision that would provide for the cost of anesthetizing the unborn child and the requirement that doctors verbally read a speech to the pregnant women must be eliminated.

That announcement comes just weeks after publication of an article in which Kissling declared that pro-abortion activists should show greater value for "fetal life." Kissling's comments and partial support of the fetal pain bill hardly qualifies as an about-face on abortion. But both are notable for the way they violate radical feminist dogma that forbids support for any legislation that is even vaguely pro-life.

Response from the pro-life community has been varied. Many see Kissling's recent statements as a cynical calculation on the part of a woman who knows that for her cause to succeed she must soften its extremist image. Other pro-lifers think that however slight it may be, Kissling's new tune indicates that a subtle shift is underway in the public debate over abortion.

One senior US House staff member told Culture & Cosmos that while Kissling's announcement may have been intended to make her seems more compassionate it may have the opposite affect. "It is interesting that they admitted unborn children may feel pain in an abortion and that fetal pain is something women want to know about. I think they are so comfortable with killing unborn children that they do not mind admitting that they believe killing an innocent child is sometimes a worthwhile thing. That is a very scary position to take."

The fetal pain bill, originally introduced by Brownback last May, has more than 30 cosponsors. A companion bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Chris Smith, R-NJ, who joined Brownback and three other Senators at a press conference announcing the bill's reintroduction. It is one of two pieces of pro-life legislation set for consideration in this year's Congress. The other is the Child Custody Protection Act which forbids an adult from transporting an underage girl across state lines for an abortion if the state of origin requires parental consent for an abortion. The Associated Press reported on Sunday that Congressional backers of the Child Custody bill, originally introduced last year, believe it will probably pass this year.
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