Does the Unborn Child Feel Pain in an Abortion?

Those who seek to justify the killing of unborn babies resort to all sorts of myths and falsehoods to make their case and assuage their conscience. They in fact have to live in a world of lies and misinformation in order to defend their willingness to destroy the unborn, and make that defence seem palatable.

Denying the humanity and personhood of the unborn child is of course one main way in which they proceed. And that is always the case with those who seek to oppress others: they seek to dehumanise the victims. Thus slave owners dehumanised blacks, just as baby-killers dehumanise the unborn.

Thus it is customary to hear that the unborn baby is just a blob of cells. As such, an abortion does not hurt it or cause it any pain. After all, ‘how can a clump of cells experience pain?’ the pro-abortionists argue. This rhetoric is just that: rhetoric. It is really about dehumanising the victim and ignoring the evidence.

Science has shown us quite clearly that babies do indeed feel pain. For example, surgeon Robert Shearin argues that unborn babies can experience pain at quite an early age: “As early as eight to ten weeks after conception, and definitely by thirteen-and-a-half weeks, the unborn experiences organic pain. . . . [At this point she] responds to pain at all levels of her nervous system in an integrated response which cannot be deemed a mere reflex. She can now experience pain.”

Another study said, “Physiologic responses to painful stimuli have been well documented in neonates of various gestational ages and are reflected in hormonal, metabolic, and cardiorespiratory changes similar to but greater than those observed in adult subjects. Other responses in newborn infants are suggestive of integrated emotional and behavioral responses to pain and are retained in memory long enough to modify subsequent behavior patterns.”

It concluded with this caution that “humane considerations should apply as forcefully to the care of neonates and young, nonverbal infants as they do to children and adults in similar painful and stressful situations.” More recently a British review of the latest research has found that an unborn baby is definitely aware of pain by 24 weeks, and possibly aware as early as 20 weeks.

Other research points to the fact that pain is being felt even before twenty weeks. As one doctor explains: “At twenty weeks, the child has all the parts in place – the pain receptors, spinal cord, nerve tracts, and thalamus – needed for transmitting and feeling pain. The unborn child responds to touch as early as week six, and by week eighteen, pain receptors have appeared throughout the child’s body.”

And professor of neurobiology and anatomy Maureen L. Condic recently presented scientific evidence concerning the ability of unborn children to experience pain at a U.S. House subcommittee. I offer here a few excerpts from her written testimony: “To experience pain, a noxious stimulus must be detected. The neural structures necessary to detect noxious stimuli are in place by 8-10 weeks of human development. There is universal agreement that pain is detected by the fetus in the first trimester. The debate concerns how pain is experienced; i.e., whether a fetus has the same pain experience a newborn or an adult would have. While every individual’s experience of pain is personal, a number of scientific observations address what brain structures are necessary for a mental or psychological experience of pain.

“First, it is clear that children born without higher brain structures (‘decorticate’ patients) are capable of experiencing pain and also other conscious behaviors … This indicates that the long-range connections that develop in the cortex only after 22 weeks (and are absent in these patients) are not obligatory for a psychological perception of pain….

“[W]hat we directly observe about fetal pain is very clear and unambiguous. Fetuses at 20 weeks post sperm-egg fusion have an increase in stress hormones in response to painful experiences that can be eliminated by appropriate anesthesia. Multiple studies clearly indicate ‘the human fetus from 18–20 weeks elaborates pituitary-adrenal, sympathoadrenal, and circulatory stress responses to physical insults.’ All of these responses reflect a mature, body-wide response to pain.”

But the pain of death is of course the biggest concern of all here. Even if the abortion procedure involved no pain at all, it still results in a dead baby. That should be all the reason we need to say no to abortion. Abortion does not solve the “problem” of pregnancy – it simply gives us a dead baby.

But abortion is both painful and lethal. It involves great pain and agony while it is being undertaken, and it gives us a dead child at the end. We rightly show pictures of young seals being clubbed to death, because we want to persuade civilised people to have this awful practice put to an end. Perhaps it is time we did the same with the awful practice of abortion. Indeed, isn’t it telling that those who most support abortion are those who get the most upset when we show them the product of their “choice”.

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4 Replies to “Does the Unborn Child Feel Pain in an Abortion?”

  1. When I saw the final frame of the doco, “The Silent Scream” and I saw the baby in the mother’s womb recoiling in anticipation of the baby-murderer’s butchering instrument, and I saw the silent scream of the baby anticipating the pain of being cut to pieces whilst still alive, I was utterly convinced that abortion is the most barbaric procedure devised by humanity since the cross.

    Sure babies feel pain.

    Lance A Box

  2. Here in Tasmania, the Legislative Council’s Government Administration Committee A is currently considering the Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Bill 2013, which passed the House of Assembly by 2 votes.

    The Bill contains some of the most restrictive and punitive provisions in the Western world. People exercising their freedom of speech to publicly show what happens during abortion can be imprisoned for 12 months, and fined $65,000, if this occurs within an unmarked 300m-wide “access zone” surrounding an unmarked abortion clinic.

    Submissions close 5pm Monday 22.

    Michael Watts

  3. Thanks Bill for bringing this up. I can’t imagine how anyone couldn’t put two and two together. To me, it’s a no-brainer. If you rip a baby limb from limb, or stick a pair of scissors in the base of her skull, it’s certainly not going to tickle. Clearly many of the mothers who go through this procedure must justify their actions to themselves by self-deception. It’s like every other sin. The first time is the hardest. After you do it a few times, it’s no problem at all. I once knew a girl who was attending church who had already had 6 abortions by the age of 18 and got pregnant to one of the guys in church who had previously been living a celibate life as a Christian and she went and aborted that baby too. Obviously her conscience wasn’t bothering her in the least about putting the baby in her womb through an agonizing death.

    Dee Graf

  4. Dear Bill, Thank you for treating this most horrendous and hidden act which is being performed on the most defenceless members of the human family, the child in h/his mother’s womb. We are presently in the throes of a referendum campaign to legalise abortion up to birth here in Ireland, basically a removal from our Constitution of the 8th Amendment – the Right to Life of the Unborn Child. The vote is on the 25th. May. There has been an emphasis from the beginning on Life Limiting Conditions which in this context has been retitled Fatal Fetal Abnormalities: – negative, dismissive and a dehumanising term I know you will agree.
    These are the little ones who will receive the paralitic injection and then the Potassium Choloride injection to literally execute them in utero, without any anaesthesia. A percentage of these babies will suffer for up to 5 hours.
    There is little or no admission of the physical and or mental injuries which can endure for the mother. I would beg anyone who is reading this post to pray for us here in Ireland. If we fail to defeat this proposed deletion , the above is the consealed agony which our innocents will endure.

    M. O’Regan,

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