Myth Buster Monday: Do unborn babies feel pain?

Myth Buster Monday: Do unborn babies feel pain?

This month Oklahoma became the fourth state in the U.S. to put in place the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.”  Oklahoma joins Nebraska, Kansas, and Idaho in protecting an unborn child who is capable of feeling pain from abortion- when an unborn child reaches the gestational age of 22 weeks or more.  The pro-abortion lobby continues to vigorously oppose this type of bill, insisting that there isn’t sufficient evidence to prove that “fetuses” are capable of perceiving pain and that it will restrict a woman’s “right to choose.”  So what does the research say on fetal pain?

Let us first state that these laws provide an exemption for a woman “who has a condition which so complicates her medical condition as to necessitate the abortion of her pregnancy to avert death or to avert serious risk of substantial or irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function…”

We also note that pro-abortion advocates seem to lack the will to legally challenge these laws.  However, some pro-life legal experts believe that these laws do not serve the best interests of the unborn:

“The unstated (and certainly unintended) message that such a policy communicates is that is acceptable to kill unborn children when they are not thought to be capable of experiencing pain (or perhaps, when their pain can be prevented). That is not a message the pro-life movement wants to send.”

Examples of Research on Fetal Pain :

Pain receptors (nociceptors) are present throughout the unborn child’s entire body by no later than 20 weeks.

K.J. S. Anand and P.R, Hickey, “Pain and its effects in the human neonate and fetus,”New England Journal of Medicine 317, 21 (1987): 1321-1329.

S. Vanhalto  and O. van Nieuwenhuizen, “Fetal Pain?”  Brain & Development  22 (2000): 145-150.

L. B. Myers, et al., “Fetal endoscopic surgery: indications and anaesthetic management,” Best Practice & Research Clinical Anaesthesiology 18, 2 (2004): 231-258.

S. H. Simons and D. Tibboel, “Pain perception development and maturation,”  Seminars on Fetal and Neonatal Medicine 11 (2006):  227-231.

R. Brusseau, “Developmental Perpectives: is the Fetus Conscious?”  International Anesthesiology Clinics 46, 3 (2008):  11-23.

Nerves link these receptors to the brain’s thalamus and subcortical plate by no later than 20 weeks.

P.N. A. Van Scheltema, et. al., “Fetal Pain,”  Fetal and Maternal Medicine Review 19, 4 (2008): 311-324.

R. Gupta, et al., “Fetal surgery and anaesthetic implications,” Continuing Education in Anaesthesia, Critical Care & Pain  8, 2 (2008): 71-75.

By 8 weeks after fertilization, the unborn child reacts to touch.

V. Glover, “The fetus may feel pain from 20 weeks; The Fetal Pain Controversy,” Conscience 25, 3 (2004): 35-37.

L. B. Myers, et al., “Fetal endoscopic surgery: indications and anaesthetic management,” Best Practice & Research Clinical Anaesthesiology 18, 2 (2004): 231-258.

R. Gupta, et al., “Fetal surgery and anaesthetic implications,” Continuing Education in Anaesthesia, Critical Care & Pain  8, 2 (2008): 71-75.

After 20 weeks, the unborn child reacts to stimuli that would be recognized as painful if applied to an adult human, for example by recoiling.

C. Williams, “Framing the fetus in medical work: rituals and practices,” Social Science & Medicine 60 (2005):  2085-2095.

C. L. Lowery, et al., “Neurodevelopmental Changes of Fetal Pain,” Seminars in Pernatology 31 (2007):   275-282.

R. Gupta, et al., “Fetal surgery and anaesthetic implications,” Continuing Education in Anaesthesia, Critical Care & Pain  8, 2 (2008): 71-75.

To see more research on fetal pain, go here

 

 

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