A renowned expert in the science of fetal pain now believes that unborn babies are capable of feeling pain as early as 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Dr. Stuart Derbyshire, a neuroscientist at the National University of Singapore, published an analysis in 2020 explaining the reasons why he now thinks an unborn baby’s capability to feel pain begins at about 12 weeks – not 24 weeks as his previous research suggested, The Washington Free Beacon reports.
The problem is that some groups are still citing Derbyshire’s old research, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) as part of its abortion advocacy.
ACOG, a prominent medical group with close ties to the abortion industry, advocates for abortion on demand at least up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. On its website, the group cites a study that Derbyshire published in 2010 as evidence that unborn babies cannot feel pain until “at least 24 weeks of gestation.”
In an interview with the Beacon, Derbyshire, who identifies as pro-choice, asked ACOG to update its website to reflect the new scientific evidence.
“If they want to maintain a webpage on fetal pain, then they probably should update it and start rethinking it,” he said. “They’ve dug a bit of a hole for themselves because they’ve indicated that in some sense [fetal pain] does matter—I think that’s a tactical error.”
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In his 2020 article with co-author John Bockmann, Derbyshire wrote: “Arguably, there never was a consensus that fetal pain is not possible before 24 weeks. Many papers discussing fetal pain have speculated a lower limit for fetal pain under 20 weeks’ gestation. … Regardless of whether there ever was a consensus, however, it is now clear that the consensus is no longer tenable.”
Practically, the capability of unborn babies to feel pain before 24 weeks also has become clear to countless doctors and nurses who have watched unborn babies via ultrasound reacting to needles or when fetal surgeries are being performed, said Dr. Donna Harrison, president of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
“ACOG has positioned itself as a rabidly pro-abortion organization,” she told the Beacon. “Their abortion advocacy has blinded them to scientific reality. … It’s clear that fetuses react to pain.”
But ACOG recently refused to revise its position, telling the Beacon that it still believes unborn babies are not capable of feeling pain until at least 24 weeks of pregnancy.
Its insistence is consistent with other denials of basic human development by abortion activists, including the fact that an unborn baby’s heart begins to beat at about 22 days of pregnancy or that a unique, living human being comes into existence at conception.