Doctor: Unborn Children Feel Pain During Partial-Birth Abortions

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 7, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Doctor: Unborn Children Feel Pain During Partial-Birth Abortions

by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 7, 2004

Lincoln, NE ( — A doctor testifying on behalf of the Bush administration to defend the ban on partial-birth abortions described yesterday how unborn children have the ability to feel intense pain during the abortion procedure. Meanwhile, abortion practitioners attempted to avoid the question and one eventually admitted he didn’t know the answer.

Dr. Kanwaljeet Anand, a pediatrician at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, said he believes unborn children suffer "severe and excruciating" pain because "the fetus is conscious" during the abortion procedure.

The baby shows increased heart rate, blood flow and hormone levels responding to pain during the abortion, Dr. Anand said.

"The physiological responses have been very clearly studied," he said. "The fetus cannot talk … so this is the best evidence we can get."

Meanwhile, in New York, abortion practitioner Carolyn Westhoff was asked repeatedly by Judge Richard Casey whether or not the unborn child feels pain.

THE COURT: Do any of them ask you whether or not the fetus experiences pain when that limb is torn off?

THE WITNESS: I do have patient who ask about fetal pain during the procedure, yes.

THE COURT: And what do you tell them?

THE WITNESS: I, first of all, assess their feelings about this, but they of course even notwithstanding the abortion decision, would generally tell me they would like to avoid the fetus feeling pain. I explain to them that in conjunction with our anesthesiologists that the medication that we give to our patients during the procedure will cross the placenta so the fetus will have some of the same medications that the mother has.


THE WITNESS: Yes, that’s right.

THE COURT: What do you tell them, does the fetus feel pain or not when they ask?

THE WITNESS: What I tell them is that the subject of the fetal pain and whether a fetus can appreciate pain is a subject of some research and controversy and that I don’t know to what extent the fetus can feel pain but that its —

THE COURT: Do you tell them it feels some pain?

THE WITNESS: I do know that when we do, for instance an amniocentesis and put a needle through the abdomen into the amniotic cavity that the fetus withdraws so I certainly know based on my experience that the fetus with withdraw in response it a painful stimulus.

THE COURT: Don’t you make it simple for them and say yeah, they feel it?

THE WITNESS: * I am not confident what the fetus feels with the anesthesia that we use and I don’t want to shy away from the possibility the fetus feels pain but I do not believe it’s fully determined what the fetus feels during this procedure.

THE COURT: Do you care?

THE WITNESS: Certainly.

But abortion practitioner Cassing Hammond, after attempting to avoid the question, admitted he doesn’t know if the unborn child feels pain.

"[T]here is no data that lead us to know what the baby feels," Hammond claimed.

"[W]e share with them the fact that we really don’t know what the fetus feels," Hammond later said, according to court transcripts.