Doctor Says Research Confirms Unborn Babies Feel Pain in 2nd Trimester

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 1, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Doctor Says Research Confirms Unborn Babies Feel Pain in 2nd Trimester Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 1, 2006

Little Rock, AR ( — A leading specialist and researcher into medical issues dealing with unborn children says he has no doubt that babies have the capacity to feel intense pain by the second trimester. In the third trimester of pregnancy, he says the internal systems for feeling pain are completely developed.

Dr. Kanwaljeet Anand of the University of Arkansas Medical Center told KTHV television in an interview that "pain perception certainly does not develop in the first trimester" for unborn children.

However, Anand confirmed that the baby’s ability to feel pain before birth "will develop sometime during the second trimester and by the third trimester the pain system is completely functional.”

Dr. Anand told the television station that causing an unborn child pain could have adverse long-term ramifications.

"Some fetuses that are chronically exposed to very toxic environments will be stressed simply from the fact that they are in these very loud, very difficult environments," he said.

"There’s also this issue of abuse. Abuse of spouse pretty clearly during pregnancy, and that will have an impact on the brain of this fetus is developing and what is going to be this child’s behavior," he added.

Rose Mimms, the director of Arkansas Right to Life told KTVH that Anand’s studies on fetal pain prompted her group to make Arkansas the first state to approve fetal pain legislation. The measure informs women having later abortions about the pain the baby will feel.

"We believe that children, that children this size, 20 weeks and more feel a great deal of pain," she said.

A British study conducted in April confirms Anand’s explanation about fetal pain.

Published in the Journal of Neuroscience by a team from University College London, the study 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.

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."

"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."