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Those are the terms of a new law that has made Utah the first state in the country to require what doctors here are calling “fetal anesthesia” for the small percentage of abortions that occur at this point in a pregnancy. The law, passed by the Republican-controlled State Legislature and signed in late March by Gov. Gary R. Herbert, a Republican, has opened a new front in the heated debate over fetal pain.

The science examining when a fetus begins to feel pain is complex. Most scientists who have expressed views on the issue have said they do not think the neurological wiring to feel pain is in place until a fetus is further along in a pregnancy, past the point when nearly all abortions occur.

But in recent years the issue has become political fodder in legislative battles over restricting abortions later in a pregnancy.

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Image: By Staecker – My baby, my picture., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2237332

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