BOSTON, MA, June 20, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — Pro-life activists are calling for the retraction of a 2005 study that purported to find that a 20-week preborn baby cannot feel pain, pointing out that the study authors were closely allied to the abortion industry, while the results are by now hopelessly outdated.
The study has been cited time and again by pro-abortion media and activists to defeat “pain-capable” abortion bans on both the state and federal level.
But now public policy analyst James Agresti is leading the charge for the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) to retract their 2005 study. Other pro-life activists are supporting the call for the retraction.
Agresti, the president of Just Facts, a think tank dedicated to researching and publishing verifiable facts about public policy issues, calls the 2005 study, “the media’s go-to source for fetal pain.”
However, “The JAMA paper’s central argument was conclusively refuted by peer-reviewed medical journals less than two years after it was published,” Agresti observes.
More recent scientific research has contradicted the 2005 conclusions that the preborn cannot feel pain were wrong. The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published studies which show that by seven weeks, pain “sensory receptors appear,” and spread to “all cutaneous [skin] and mucous surfaces” by 18 weeks.
The NEJM noted the 18-week cerebral cortex has the same number of nerve cells as a full-grown adult.
Multiple studies show that preborn babies respond to touch as early as six weeks.
The Encyclopedia of Human Biology notes that by 10 weeks, “All components of the brain and spinal cord are formed, and nerves link the stem of the brain and the spinal cord to all tissues and organs of the body.” By 12 weeks, “Electrical activity of the nervous system is discernible” and “attempts to suckle” are observed “in utero and in aborted fetuses.”
A 2012 study published in the journal Fetal Diagnosis and Therapy titled, “Fetal and Maternal Analgesia/Anesthesia for Fetal Procedures,” showed that as early as 14 weeks, a preborn child demonstrates “a physiological fetal reaction to painful stimuli.”
The journal Anesthesiology even noted that as early as 18 weeks, the preborn “elaborates pituitary-adrenal, sympatho-adrenal, and circulatory stress responses to physical insults.”
Many other studies have shown the same thing: by 20 weeks and before, preborn babies have pain receptors, consciousness, and react to pain. The Family Research Council's Arina Grossu has offered a summary of the evidence.
And yet, the mainstream media, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, CNN, Slate, and the Daily Beast, continue to propagate the idea that at 20 weeks, the preborn cannot feel pain, citing the 2005 JAMA study as their authoritative proof. The 2005 JAMA study has been cited 191 times in other studies as supporting science, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science. Even “fact checking” websites propagate the falsehood.
“Tell the mother of a wailing 27-week preemie that her baby doesn't feel pain as the nurse sticks the child with a needle, and you're sure to get an animated response,” Bradley Mattes, President of Life Issues Institute, told LifeSiteNews. “When pro-abortion publications like the New York Times question the validity of this study, you know it can't be taken seriously.”
“It shows the extent pro-abortion activists go to when promoting an agenda of abortion-on-demand,” Mattes added.
Agresti also pointed out that several of the study's authors have been directly involved in the abortion industry.
Dr. Eleanor Drey, works as the medical director for an abortion business, “Women's Options Center” in San Francisco. The Women's Options Center's website explains, “Women's Options Center's mission is to offer high quality, sensitive and confidential abortion services.”
Dr. Drey also is an associate professor at the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, under the University of California, San Francisco.
Additionally, Susan Lee, the study's lead author, worked previously as a lawyer for the National Abortion Rights Action League.
The New York Times noted these conflicts of interest in an article headlined, “Study Authors Didn't Report Abortion Ties.”
Agresti also noted that the study's third author, Mark Rosen, worked at an abortion clinic.
“This paper was published under false pretenses, and its central claim is demonstrably false,” Agresti concluded.
Other pro-life leaders agreed with Agresti. “The paper is ethically unsound and scientifically inaccurate,” David Prentice, professor of molecular genetics at The Catholic University of America, told the National Catholic Register. “I think it would be appropriate for that paper to be retracted.”
Students for Life president Kristin Hawkins stated that the study “has been used as a propaganda tool pushed by the abortion industry,” and women are betrayed by “having this study in the public eye without acknowledging the people behind it, those who profit greatly from abortion.”
“JAMA has proven time and again that they are not interested in science or medicine,” Operation Rescue President Troy Newman told LifeSiteNews. “JAMA continues to use discredited and faulty data to advance their rabid pro-abortion and eugenic driven agenda.”
“The editorial board at JAMA are abortion purists, they have never met an unborn baby they would not abort, or a fetal organ that would not exploit for personal gain,” Newman concluded.
A spokesman from JAMA said its editor-in-chief received the request for a retraction, and is evaluating it. The journal's current editor-in-chief is Howard Bauchner of Boston University.