In response to the March 30 letter, "Support bill to eliminate painful abortions," I would like to offer some facts. First, nearly 99 percent of abortions happen before 20 weeks. Second, neurological function necessary to perceive pain does not occur until 29 to 30 weeks, well after any legal abortion would be performed.

In my experience as an OB/GYN, abortions after 20 weeks almost always happen when something has gone terribly wrong, usually in a desired pregnancy. Identifying major anatomic or genetic defects often happens at the 20-week ultrasound. If an unfortunate diagnosis of one of these defects is made, the patient should be able to choose to terminate the pregnancy. This can allow them to grieve, move on, and conceive again, something they would have to wait months and months to do otherwise.

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Let me tell you about a real patient. She was 36 and expecting her second child when I had to tell her the baby would not survive because her 20-week ultrasound revealed essentially no brain development and multiple other defects. Instead of being subjected to well-meaning strangers' questions of when she was due and if she was having a boy or girl, as well as the daily emotional trauma of carrying a child she knew would not survive, she chose to terminate the pregnancy in a safe, outpatient procedure here in Minnesota. She was lucky she did not have to travel to another state or country to have this procedure done. She went on to conceive again and now is the happy mother of two.

Obviously, this is an individual's decision, one to be made by her and her doctor after appropriate counseling. A 20-week abortion ban would limit my ability to give my patients all the best health care options. I applaud Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith for opposing it.

Dr. Jennifer Boyle