To get around the partial-birth abortion ban, abortionists have taken to injecting the child with potassium chloride while the child is in the womb to cause the heart to stop. Potassium chloride is one of the chemicals used in lethal injection executions. As the New York Times noted in an article on the stopping of lethal injections in California and Florida because of concerns over the possibility of causing needless pain,
The protocols vary slightly, but almost all call for a series of three chemicals. The first is a barbiturate to render the inmate unconscious. The second is a paralyzing agent that makes the inmate unable to speak, move or breathe. The third is potassium chloride, which stops the heart.
Both sides in California agreed that it would be unconstitutional to inject a conscious person with either or both of the second two chemicals. The paralyzing agent would leave the inmate conscious while he suffocated, and potassium chloride is extremely painful.
In the case of the 20-22 week fetus, there is no barbituate administered. The child is given the extremely painful potassium chloride alone, the drug considered by the ACLU, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International to be cruel and unusual punishment for convicted murderers.