By Gudrun Schultz

LONDON, United Kingdom, October 4, 2006 ( ) – Startling images of tiny unborn babies sucking their thumbs and “walking” at 12 weeks gestation have no significance for the abortion debate, according to a trio of experts in the neonatal field, the Times Online reported today.

Responding to the recent debate, triggered by the images, on lowering the gestational age for legal abortions—currently set at 24 weeks—the experts said the images do not prove unborn babies have feelings.

The images are the result of new developments in ultrasound technology, led by Professor Stuart Campbell, former professor of obstetrics and gynecology at King’s College, London. The four-dimensional images allow viewers to witness details of the unborn child’s activity previously hidden to researchers.

Babies can be seen stretching, kicking and leaping at 12 weeks, making intricate finger movements at 15 weeks, and yawning at 20 weeks, the Guardian reported. Babies at 18 weeks gestation were shown opening their eyes.

Prof. Campbell, now head of the fertility clinic Create Health Clinic, said he had seen an image of a child at 18 weeks making a “crying” face, a revelation of potential feeling in the unborn which he says must be examined further.

“This is just a piece of evidence. It’s not proof but you can’t just dismiss this.”

Dismissing the images, however, is just what some neonatal experts say should happen. Calling them “dangerous,” the authorities said immaturity of the unborn children’s brain functions was not addressed by the revelation of early controlled movement.

“The temptation is to associate foetal movements with adult movements – it’s sucking its thumb because it’s happy, it’s walking because it’s going somewhere,” Donald Peebles, a feotal medicine consultant at University College London said. “I think it’s that step which is extraordinarily dangerous. I don’t think in scientific terms these shed any new light whatsoever on the debate.”

“Personification of the fetus at that age is dangerous,” said Huseyin Mehmet, reader in developmental neurobiology at Imperial College London. “I was worried when I saw those images. To suggest that an early fetus in utero has those kind of human qualities of being able to suck its thumb and move…is very difficult indeed.”

A third, John Wyatt, professor of neonatal paediatrics at University College Hospital, London, said the images would not have an impact on the understanding of neuroscience, despite admitting that science “will never know at what point foetal consciousness and awareness start.”

Read coverage by Times Online:,,2-2385574,00.html

See related LifeSiteNews coverage:

Amazing New Ultrasound Shows First-Ever Pictures of Unborn at 12 Weeks ‘Walking’ in the womb

4-D Ultrasound Shows Babies Smile and Cry in Womb