Researcher Saying Unborn Babies Can’t Feel Pain Tied to Pro-Abortion Groups

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 14, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Researcher Saying Unborn Babies Can’t Feel Pain Tied to Pro-Abortion Groups Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 14, 2006

London, England ( — A British researcher is claiming that unborn children do not feel pain before birth and, therefore, legislation telling women that is the case is unnecessary. However, the claim flies in the face of other research showing that both unborn children and premature babies feel pain and the researcher is tied to pro-abortion groups.

Stuart Derbyshire, senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Birmingham, says babies do not feel pain before birth, even in later stages of pregnancy. He criticized pro-life lawmakers who support legislation telling women that fact.

"This is an unwarranted piece of legislation because there is good evidence that the fetus cannot feel pain at any stage of gestation," Derbyshire said.

The researcher authored a review of the subject that the British Medical Journal printed in its April 15 edition.

"[I]ts illegitimate to use the possibility of pain as a way of trying to prevent abortion from occurring, because the possibility of pain doesn’t exist," he wrote.

However, Derbyshire’s views may be colored by abortion politics.

According to Forbes magazine, he has served as a consultant to Planned Parenthood affiliates in Virginia and Wisconsin as well as the U.K.-based Pro-Choice Forum.

Congress is considering legislation to tell women that their unborn child after 20 weeks of pregnancy has the capacity to feel pain. It would require abortion practitioners to offer them the chance to give the baby anesthesia to lessen the pain during the abortion.

State legislatures in more than a dozen states are considering similar bills and several have already passed laws to that effect.

Other research has shown that premature babies and those in the womb have the capacity to feel pain.

A new British study finds that premature babies experience pain and don’t merely exhibit reflexive actions in response to painful events.

The study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience by a team from University College London, analyzed brain scans taken on premature babies when blood was being drawn from them. The results found that babies as young as 24 weeks after pregnancy can feel pain and the researchers hope the study will prompt new pain treatment methods.

Meanwhile, Dr. Kanwaljeet Anand of the University of Arkansas Medical Center says he and other specialists have found that babies feel pain before birth as early as 20 weeks into the pregnancy.

Anand has 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."