Report Saying Babies Don’t Feel Abortion Pain Early Comes Under Fire

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 23, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Report Saying Babies Don’t Feel Abortion Pain Early Comes Under Fire Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 23, 2005

Berkeley, CA ( — A new report from researchers at the University of California says unborn children do not likely feel the pain of abortions during the earlier parts of a woman’s pregnancy. The findings are coming under fire from doctors who specialize in fetal development and they say it’s off the mark.

The UC report, which appears in Wednesday’s Journal of the American Medical Association, says unborn children likely do not feel any pain, including that of an abortion, until 28 weeks into pregnancy.

The report, intended to undercut support for Congressional and state-level legislation requiring abortion doctors to inform women considering an abortion of the pain babies will feel, says offering women anesthesia for the baby is misguided.

Allowing women considering an abortion to have the unborn child anesthetized beforehand is another component of the bill.

However, Dr. Kanwaljeet Anand of the University of Arkansas Medical Center says the report is biased. He said he and other specialists in development of unborn children have shown that babies feel pain before birth as early as 20 weeks into the pregnancy.

Anand said other medical studies conclude that unborn babies are "very likely" to be "extremely sensitive to pain during the gestation of 20 to 30 weeks."

"This is based on multiple lines of evidence," Dr. Anand said. "Not just the lack of descending inhibitory fibers, but also the number of receptors in the skin, the level of expression of various chemicals, neurotransmitters, receptors, and things like that."

Anand explained that later-term abortion procedures, such as a partial-birth abortion "would be likely to cause severe pain."

Anand says the report will upset other specialists who know more about fetal development than the reports’ authors.

An April 2004 Zogby poll shows that 77% of Americans back "laws requiring that women who are 20 weeks or more along in their pregnancy be given information about fetal pain before having an abortion."

Only 16 percent disagreed with such a proposal, according to the poll, commissioned by the National Right to Life Committee.