According to Right to Life UK, a large number of MPs recently attended a webinar on fetal pain which was hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group (APPPG) and chaired by Fiona Bruce MP.
The webinar was to raise awareness of the science behind fetal pain and how current UK abortion law affects the treatment of preborn human beings, and included John C. Bockmann PA, a U.S. Army physician assistant and member of the Conner Troop Medical Clinic at Fort Drum, New York, and Dr. Stuart WG Derbyshire, Associate Professor in Psychology at the National University of Singapore. Bockmann and Derbyshire shared evidence showing preborn children may feel pain as early as 12 weeks gestation. Other studies have shown they may actually feel pain as early as eight weeks. Bockmann and Derbyshire worked together on Reconsidering Fetal Pain, an article published in the Journal of Medical Ethics.
“We have divergent views regarding the morality of abortion, but have come together to address the evidence of fetal pain,” they wrote. “Most reports on the possibility of fetal pain have focused on developmental neuroscience. […] We consider the possibility that the mere experience of pain, without the capacity for self reflection, is morally significant. We believe that fetal pain does not have to be equivalent to a mature adult human experience to matter morally, and so fetal pain might be considered as part of a humane approach to abortion.”
They both say there is “good evidence” that the brain and nervous system, which begin to develop at 12 weeks, make it possible for the preborn child to feel pain at this point. Women considering abortion should be informed that their children could feel the pain of being killed. “Fetal analgesia and anaesthesia should thus be standard for abortions in the second trimester, especially after 18 weeks when there is good evidence for a functional connection from the periphery and into the brain,” said Bockmann, who does not share Derbyshire’s pro-abortion position.
Currently, the use of fetal pain relief is not required in the UK, nor is it advised by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence or the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists. Bockmann said the guidelines and laws are based on a 2010 report on fetal awareness that is outdated. He said that legislators “need to highlight the humanity of the fetus by whatever means are appropriate and this is certainly one of them. The ability to feel pain is visceral and undeniable to so many people.”
If preborn children from 20 weeks gestation receive pain relief for surgery such as prenatal surgery for spina bifida, then babies aborted at the same age should be given the same consideration considering that the most common form of second trimester abortion is a D&E, in which the child’s limbs are ripped from her torso.
“This new evidence adds further pressure on Parliament to urgently review our current abortion time limit,” said Lord Alton of Liverpool. “We last had a proper debate on time limits in 2008.”
Despite the debate over fetal pain, abortion deliberately takes the life of a human being. Whether or not that human feels pain while being killed is of secondary importance to the fact that killing innocent human beings through abortion is wrong.
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