by Steven Ertelt
December 6, 2006
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — During the debate on an abortion-fetal pain bill in the House of Representatives, leading pro-abortion lawmakers cited a bogus study claiming babies don’t feel pain until 29 weeks into pregnancy. However, the report was written by two abortion advocates including an abortion center director.
"The medical and scientific community has yet to reached a consensus regarding if and when a fetus feels pain," Rep. Frank Pallone said during the House debate Wednesday, referring to the report.
The lead author of the study, published in the August 2005 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association, was Susan J. Lee, a University of California at San Francisco medical student who once worked for the pro-abortion lobbying group NARAL.
Another author, UCSF obstetrician-gynecologist Eleanor Drey, is the medical director of the abortion center at San Francisco General Hospital.
Dr. Laura Myers and Dr. Linda Bulich, both professors of anesthesiology at Harvard Medical School, later wrote to the medical journal refuting the pro-abortion study’s contentions.
They said they had "a number of concerns" about the study and pointed out that the authors are not "an expert on fetal or neonatal pain" and did not include any such experts in their study.
The doctors, who have authored the textbook "Anesthesia for Fetal Intervention and Surgery," went on to say that the study did not cite any of the top articles on the subject or refer to their textbook.
Rep. Dave Weldon, a Florida Republican who is also a physician, referred to the study during the House debate.
"It was basically published by the abortion industry and, to me, it was a disgrace that JAMA would allow its publication," Weldon said.
Shortly after its publication, JAMA editor-in-chief Catherine DeAngelis told Knight Ridder News she was unaware that the two authors are intimately involved in the abortion movement. She acknowledged that revelation could hurt the credibility of the publication.
"This is the first I’ve heard about it," she told the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper. "We ask them to reveal any conflict of interest. I would have published" the disclosure of the abortion ties if it had been made.
Other experts on this issue say there is clear and compelling evidence that unborn children can experience extreme pain before birth.
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.
Neurologist Dr. Paul Ranalli of the University of Toronto also commented on the report saying the 20-30 week child in the womb may even feel more pain than an adult. He adds that the "pain impulse connections in the spinal cord link up and reach the thalamus (the brain’s reception center): at 7-20 weeks."