OXFORD, March 10, 2003 ( - A leading British scientist has found new evidence that unborn babies develop a “conscious mind” before 24 weeks—the upper limit for legal abortion in the U.K.  Baroness Greenfield, a professor of neurology at Oxford University, said: “Is the foetus conscious? The answer is yes, but up to a point. ... Given that we can’t prove   consciousness or not, we should be very cautious about being too gung ho and assuming something is not conscious. We should err on the side of caution.”  Her words add weight to a Daily Telegraph newspaper poll last year, which found many neurologists are also concerned that the unborn can feel pain in the womb before 24 weeks. However, their preferred solution was to anaesthetize the unborn before abortion.  “The Home Office [Britain’s domestic affairs department, which includes justice] has legislation that applies to a mammal and they have now extended it to the octopus, a mollusc, because it can learn. ... If a mollusc can be attributed with being sentient, and now has Home Office protection, then my own view is that we should be very cautious after making assumptions [about the foetus],” she told the British Fertility Society last week.  For local coverage:

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