Tuesday July 13, 2010

FRC Report Addresses ‘Faulty’ Fetal Pain Study

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 12, 2010 ( – The Family Research Council (FRC) has released a new report attacking the claim of the London-based Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) that unborn babies do not feel pain before 24 weeks because their brains are not sufficiently formed until then.

“RCOG is using a faulty definition of pain in this study,” said Jeanne Monahan, Director of the FRC’s Center for Human Dignity. “A number of experts in the field of fetal development … previously have refuted the idea that the cortex needs to be fully developed for an unborn baby to feel pain.”

She continued: “On the contrary, it is possible that unborn babies between 20-30 weeks of development can experience greater pain than a full-term newborn or older child.”

In the United Kingdom abortion for social reasons is restricted past the 24th week of gestation. Prime Minister David Cameron has endorsed reducing this limit to 20 or 22 weeks because of recent advances in medical technology.

Pro-abortion forces have used the RCOG study as evidence that there is no scientific reason to decrease this limit.

The RCOG report is based on the idea that the cortex is required to feel pain. The FRC’s report, however, points out that even babies born without fully developed cortexes “respond to noxious stimuli.”

Furthermore, the report continues, “at 20-30 weeks, the human being has the highest number of pain receptors per square inch, more than any other time in development.”

“Fibers which help to moderate pain do not begin to develop until 32-34 weeks, thus making the argument that babies feel pain more severely between 20-32 weeks.”

Monahan said, however, that the pro-life cause would be unaffected even if it could be shown that unborn infants do not feel pain.

“The humanness of the unborn child is not contingent on its capacity for pain,” she said.

“Whether or not an unborn child can feel pain is irrelevant to the respect that an unborn person deserves – respect sufficient to be protected by law from conception until natural death.”

See related stories on

Report Debunking Fetal Pain Shows ‘Stunning Lack of Scholarship’: NRLC


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