Tag archives: Fetal Pain

New Research Shows “Adult-Like” Nerves in Very Young Embryos: Affirming the Likelihood of Fetal Pain

by Arina Grossu

May 16, 2017

This article first appeared at CareNet.


This new research shows that the nervous system of an embryo is quite complex by the time most women find out they are pregnant.

A study published in March 2017 reveals “adult-like” pattern of nerves established before the end of the first trimester. This new dose of science and technology should inform our fetal pain debate.

The study generated 3D images at the cellular level of actual human embryos ranging from 6 to 14 weeks gestation (4 to 12 weeks post-fertilization), as never before seen. These images show nerve, muscular, cardiovascular, and other organ system development. The results are incredible. For example, below is an image of the complex peripheral nerves of an embryo at 7 to 8 weeks gestation (5-6 weeks post-fertilization):

fetal pain.png

The second image shows the nerves on the right hand of embryos from 7-11 weeks gestation (5-9 weeks post-fertilization). Even at 7 weeks gestation, the development is quite advanced—even more so at 11 weeks. All of this is happening in the first trimester!

fetal pain 2.png

What this new research shows is that the nervous system of an embryo is quite complex even by 5 weeks post-fertilization when quite often, the mom is only finding out that she is pregnant after missing her first period. We already know that “pain receptors appear around the mouth at 4 to 5 weeks post-fertilization, followed by the development of nerve fibers, which carry stimuli to the brain. Around 6 weeks post-fertilization, the unborn child first responds to touch. By 18 weeks post-fertilization, pain receptors have appeared throughout the body.”

We also know that there is no question, biologically speaking, about whether an unborn child can feel pain by 20 weeks post-fertilization at the very latest, since by then they have the full anatomy to process pain and also the neurobiology to transmit painful sensations to the brain and to perceive pain. Studies show that babies can feel pain by their increased hormonal stress response and by wincing when they are exposed to painful stimuli.

It should come as no surprise that it is common practice for doctors to administer anesthesia before performing in-utero surgeries on preborn babies. When administered, anesthesia decreases the stress response in preborn babies when compared to their hormone levels when painful stimuli are applied without any anesthesia. Twenty states have already passed laws banning abortions after 18 or 20 weeks post-fertilization because of the capacity for unborn children to experience pain, with Iowa being the latest to pass such legislation.

A few weeks ago, people gathered for the March for Science. If we are to be honest, science shows us the clear-cut reality and complexity of embryonic development in the earliest weeks of the first trimester. This is an inconvenient reality for those who rely on ideology instead of science to deny the humanity of preborn children and their capacity to feel pain.

In our culture, there are those who will have more compassion for animals than for babies who are given a death sentence because of their age and location. We will continue to fight until every one of these vulnerable preborn babies are protected — by our laws and our culture. It is not enough to recognize that these children feel pain when aborted; we must empower those around us to make life-affirming choices. Only then will our nation become one where it is safe to be in the womb.

What about the Females Being Aborted?

by Sherry Crater

June 18, 2013

Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) and Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) in fighting against the rule and the underlying bill, the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, stated that the bill shows disregard for women denying them the care they need. Rep. Schneider said that pregnancy has “life altering implications for women.”

Really! What about all the unborn females that are not only denied care but will never even have a life because someone is more concerned about life altering implications? Perhaps the males on the Judiciary subcommittee who Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) accused of being “indifferent to the rights of women” are actually the voices to protect the smallest females among us who will not be protected by those defending the personal autonomy of women at the expense of those women yet to be born.

Stay out of our Health Care?

by Sherry Crater

June 18, 2013

In watching the rules debate on the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, H.R. 1797, I was stunned by the remarks of Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.). Rep. Edwards made the well worn remark that abortion is a decision between a woman and her doctor. However, she followed that remark with an admonition to “stay out of our health care” saying that H.R. 1797 allows for “governmental interference” in women’s health care.

Excuse me…….do we remember that Rep. Edwards voted for the Affordable Care Act, the law directing the massive intrusion by the federal government into every American’s health care? This is the law subsidizing abortion with taxpayer money, and this isn’t an intrusion into your health care?

Perhaps Rep. Edwards should recall that the Internal Revenue Service, currently in the news for egregiously abusing its power, will be instrumental in the implementation of this intrusive health care law and will be collecting an abortion fee paid under this law. How convenient to now claim the government should stay out of health care so she can defend late painful abortion. 

State of the 2011 Session in Review: Idaho

by Brianna Walden

April 19, 2011

Since the Adjournment of Idahos 2011 legislative session on April 7th, a wide spectrum of adjectives have been used to describe this years proceedings. Governor Otter called it very succesful, while Senate Democrats called the session the worst in their collective memories. Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis said it was a difficult session among some of the worst economic times in memory and Representative Erik Simpson summed it up by quoting Charles Dickens: “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”

From a pro-life and pro-family perspective it is easy to agree with the Governor and call Idahos 2011 session very successful indeed. According to Julie Lynde, Executive director at Cornerstone Family Council, Governor Otter signed every piece of pro-life legislation that crossed his desk. And many of those measures were quite significant.

Fetal Pain

Idaho joined Nebraska and Kansas as the third state to prohibit late term abortions (in this case 20 or more weeks) based upon an unborn childs ability to feel pain. This is a huge step toward upholding the value of all life, and in reinforcing the humanity of the unborn child. At least 12 other state legislatures are advancing similar measures. (See the Fetal Pain state map here).

Prohibiting Abortion Coverage in Obamacare

With the passage of S 1115, Idaho ensured that abortion will not be covered in health plans created through the Health Exchange instituted in Obamacare. Seven other states have passed this same law (AZ, LA, MO, MS, TN, UT, VA) and at least 17 other states have introduced similar measures. The passage of this bill ensures that the current law in Idaho, which prohibits abortion coverage in all health insurance plans, will not be jeopardized by Obamacare.

In addition, a resolution was passed (HCR 23) which removed a dangerous Health and Welfare Medicaid rule that could be used to fund teen abortions and potentially circumvent existing parental consent laws.

Not only was unborn life further protected by the legislature this year, but life was also protected until natural death with the passage of S 1070 prohibiting physician assisted suicide.

Fiscally speaking it was also a productive session. Governor Otter was an active proponent of a bill that was passed to balance the budget without raising taxes and several educational reform bills removing collective bargaining for teachers, instilling a merit-based pay system, and shifting allocation of school funds toward technology.

Very successful seems to be an adequate description of this years session, though it is easy to see how some might disagree. Perhaps Senate President Pro Tempore Brent Hill sums it up best of all when he says: History will tell if this session was a great accomplishment or failure. Anyone who claims we haven’t accomplished much wasn’t paying attention.

State of the States: Kansas

by Brianna Walden

March 30, 2011

Mirroring a bill passed last year in Nebraska, the Kansas legislature recently gave final approval to a measure prohibiting abortions after 21 weeks based on an unborn childs ability to feel pain. This measure, HB2218, has now been sent to Governor Sam Brownback who is expected to sign it. Passage of this legislation signals a huge step toward fully protecting and valuing unborn human life. It also sets a precedent among states, the majority of which currently protect life at fetal viability, a stage which can be hard to definitively determine. Kansas is not alone in their effort to protect unborn children who can feel pain, 12 other states currently have similar legislation (ID, OK, OR, AR, AL, GA, SC, FL, MS, MN, IA, IN).

Another pro-life bill passed by the legislature was HB2035. It defines the criteria for those required to report cases of suspected child abuse and broadens it to include those who work or volunteer at organizations that provide pregnancy services to minors. Also included are reporting requirements for abortion providers; a provision allowing a woman to file suit if an abortion was performed upon her illegally; and a parental consent requirement among other things.

On the topic of abortion, other bills in the legislature would prohibit taxpayer funding of abortion (HB2377), specify licensing requirements of abortion clinics (HB2337, SB36, SB45 and SB165), create health exceptions to late-term abortions (HB2007), and address abortion coverage in health insurance (HB2292 and HB2293).

In other areas, the legislature recently passed a bill requiring citizens to present valid ID before voting and in order to register to vote. Provisions of the law do not start going into effect until January 1st, 2012.

Currently in committees of origin are bills that establish covenant marriages and enact divorce reform (HB2254), prohibit public funding of human cloning (HB2214), and include sexual orientation and gender identity in state law prohibiting discrimination (SB53). Also of note is a bill which has passed the house and is now in a senate committee that addresses the method of selecting judges (HB2101).

For more on the issue of fetal pain please read The Science of Fetal Pain by Jeanne Monahan.

FRC Responds to Flawed British Study on Fetal Pain

by Family Research Council

July 12, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C.- The Family Research Council today released a new report that refutes claims made recently by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ (RCOG) that a fetus is not able to feel pain before 24 weeks of development. RCOG’s study is being used to uphold Britain’s current legalization of abortions up to 24 weeks. Pro-abortion activists in the United States could also try to use this study to argue against Nebraska’s new law that states that an unborn baby can feel pain at 20 weeks and which, as a result, outlaws abortions from that point on.

Director of FRC’s Center for Human Dignity Jeanne Monahan notes that the RCOG’s study is seriously flawed and could lead to a profound moral injustice, the more cavalier taking of unborn life. Said Monahan:

The report appears to be politically timed and motivated, given the growing momentum in the U.K. to protect the life of the unborn by lowering the time limits for legal abortion.

RCOG is using a faulty definition of pain in this study. A number of experts in the field of fetal development, who were not consulted for this report, previously have refuted the idea that the cortex needs to be fully developed for an unborn baby to feel pain. On the contrary, it is possible that unborn babies between 20-30 weeks of development can experience greater pain than a full-term newborn or older child. At 20-30 weeks, an unborn child possesses the highest number of pain receptors per square inch he or she will ever possess, and the baby’s nerve fibers are located closest to the surface of the skin.

Most importantly, RCOG is trying - but failing - to dehumanize the baby to make abortion appear somehow more palatable, yet the truth remains that abortion is a violent and painful procedure for the infant and mother. The humanness of the unborn child is not contingent on its capacity for pain. Whether or not an unborn child can feel pain is irrelevant to the respect that an unborn person deserves - respect sufficient to be protected by law from conception until natural death,” Monahan concluded.

Click here to download Family Research Council’s response to the RCOG report.

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