Unborn Babies Can Feel Pain Before 24 Weeks, Scientists Say

Ultrasound images from 4 weeks and 20 weeks

By Published on January 20, 2020

Unborn babies may be able to feel pain at as early as 13 weeks, scientists say.

Medical experts have believed that unborn babies cannot feel pain before 24 weeks, the Daily Mail reports, but two medical researchers told the publication that recent studies show that babies may feel “something like pain” at as early as 13 weeks.

One of these researchers, British professor Stuart Derbyshire, is a “pro-choice” pain expert, who has acted as a consultant for the UK-based Pro-Choice Forum and for Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States.

Derbyshire formerly wrote in the British Medical Journal in 2006 that not talking to women about the pain unborn babies may feel is “sound policy based on good evidence that foetuses cannot experience pain.”

Ignoring this new evidence and “acting as if we have certainty” that unborn babies cannot feel pain “flirts with moral recklessness,” Derbyshire and American medic John Bockmann warn, arguing that mothers who wish to obtain abortions should be informed that their unborn child may experience pain.

Doctors and medical professionals had previously thought the unborn child’s cortex, which is the outer brain layer dealing with sensory information, would not be developed enough to feel pain before 24 weeks.

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Recent studies, however, do not entirely agree with this point, the scientists say, referring to one study showing that adults with seriously damaged cortexes are still able to feel pain.

“Given the evidence that the foetus might be able to experience something like pain during later abortions, it seems reasonable that the clinical team and the pregnant woman are encouraged to consider foetal analgesia [pain relief],” Bockmann and Derbyshire warn.

The United Kingdom carried out 218,281 abortions in 2018, the Daily Mail reports, almost a quarter of all pregnancies in the United Kingdom that year. About 6,000 of these abortions are performed at or after 18 weeks.

Planned Parenthood did not respond to a request for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.


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