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Natasha Tax

Opinion

Fetal pain: Spurious assertion or scientific fact?

Natasha Tax

February 18, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- Is it only wrong to injure someone if she can voice her objection? The Guttmacher Institute seems to think so.

Recently, the Guttmacher institute stated its objection to laws that ban abortion at 20 weeks post- fertilization on the “spurious” assertion that an unborn child (a “fetus”) can feel pain at that point. However, the organization fails to explain the reason that it chooses not to acknowledge the evidence which proves fetal pain. The objective truth is that the unborn child can feel pain and this fact should trouble reasonable consciences.

According to Dr. Jean A. Wright of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, by 20 weeks of gestation, the unborn child has all of the organs necessary to perceive and transmit pain.  For that matter, 20 weeks is a conservative estimate according to many scientists. In fact, most scientists believe that pain perception may begin as early as six weeks in the womb, which can be confirmed because electrical brain activity can be verified in babies as young as six or seven weeks. Knowing this, the assertion that unborn children can feel pain at 20 weeks is quite conservative.

Furthermore, there is substantial evidence to support the argument that unborn babies actually feel pain more intensely than adults, as they are far more sensitive.  According to Dr. Ranalli, a neuro-ophthalmologist from Ontario, while the unborn child has all of the neurons that will be present in adulthood, its pain-modifying system has yet to develop. They have no way of modifying pain, as pain “dampeners” do not fully develop until at least 40 weeks of gestation. In addition to not having pain dampeners, the unborn child between 20 and 30 weeks post-fertilization has the most pain receptors per square inch that she will have at any other point in her life.

While the fetal pain question is known for its capacity to spur debate, the scientific research is objective: unborn children can feel pain.  They communicate this pain by facial expressions visible in ultrasounds, increases in stress hormones, and by simply moving away from painful stimuli.  The act of abortion and its various gruesome methods kills the unborn child, to whom it is incredibly painful.

 Even when the unborn child does not feel pain earlier on, abortion is still wrong because it ends the life of an innocent human being. It is time to acknowledge the findings of the scientific community on fetal pain.

While the Guttmacher Institute and its allies object to abortion laws that protect pain-capable unborn babies, these laws are only expressions of common sense – common sense based on common decency. This is why the pro-life community will fight until every child in the womb is protected by law.

Natasha Tax served as the Policy and Political Action Committee Intern for Family Research Council in the fall of 2015. She is pursuing her undergraduate degree in Political Science and Spanish at Temple University. 

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