The science of preborn pain
by Texas Right to LifeTuesday, March 12, 2013
The Texas Pain Bill, which establishes a state interest in protecting the lives of preborn children who feel pain, has predictably been attacked by the anti-Life media, which challenges the scientific evidence. The Dallas Observer called the evidence “medically questionable,” and cited a “fact” that “there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that fetuses actually feel pain.” The Observer ignores dozens of current peer-reviewed fetal pain studies that confirm the capacity of a 20-week child to feel pain in utero.
Numerous scientific studies and physicians recognize that preborn children feel torturous pain from abortion by twenty weeks gestation, if not earlier. Contrary to The Observer’s ludicrous claim that the reality of fetal pain is based on a study from 1987 that has been “debunked,” ample recent evidence from the scientific community supports the bill.
What we know is the nervous system is developed to a level of maturity where pain can be sensed. We do see physical reaction to stimulation, and not only with respect to movement of the child, but release of stress hormones and other responses such as elevated heart rate. These are all objective responses to pain. And that is superimposed on the knowledge that the circuitry is developed which enables a human to feel and experience pain.
There is ample biologic, physiologic, hormonal, and behavioral evidence for fetal and neonatal pain. As early as 8 weeks post-fertilization, face skin receptors appear. At 14 weeks, sensory fibers grow into the spinal cord and connect with the thalamus. At 13-16 weeks, monoamine fibers reach the cerebral cortex, so that by 17-20 weeks the thalamo-cortical relays penetrate the cortex. […] In fact, by 20 weeks post-fertilization… the fetal brain has the full complement of neurons that are present in adulthood (Lagercrantz H et al. Functional development of the brain in fetus and infant. Lakartidningan 1991;88:1880-85).
It can be clearly demonstrated that fetuses seek to evade certain stimuli in a manner in which an infant or an adult would be interpreted as a reaction to pain.