Many abortion activists have claimed that preborn children don’t feel pain at all, while others in the medical community have argued that the threshold for fetal pain is no earlier than 24 weeks. But earlier this year, a groundbreaking study questioned the current consensus on fetal pain. Two researchers teamed up for the study, which argued that preborn children are actually capable of experiencing pain as early as 12 weeks. What’s even more amazing is how the two researchers — who disagree about abortion — came together for the study.
One of the authors, John Bockmann, spoke to Secular Pro-Life about his conversion experience. Originally supportive of legal abortion, Bockmann’s mind changed when his wife became pregnant with their children. “He got to witness his wife’s pregnancies and the love he felt for his children even before they were born, and that moved him,” Secular Pro-Life reported. “He felt more passionate and personal about this issue.” The videos and evidence from the Center for Medical Progress revealing how Planned Parenthood was altering abortions to harvest and sell fetal tissue further solidified his pro-life views.
Bockmann was working on his master’s thesis for a military physician’s assistant (PA) program, and decided to research fetal pain. This led him to British professor Stuart Derbyshire, an abortion supporter, whose work in a New York Times article seemed to contradict his earlier research on fetal pain. So Bockmann took a leap of faith, and reached out to Derbyshire. As Secular Pro-Life explains:
[I]n May 2016 they started chatting over email. They got to know each other and became friends, which is hugely important. People change their minds through friendship as much as or more than through logic and debate. And in the course of them becoming friends and discussing the fetal pain issue, Stuart changed his mind, or at least thought there might be significant factors that he should address.
In February 2018, Stuart was asked to write an article on the current state of fetal pain scholarship, and he reached out to John for input. After much debate and collaboration, they wrote and rewrote their ideas into the article, “Reconsidering Fetal Pain.”
And as of today, their paper is the 5th most downloaded paper for the Journal of Medical Ethics of all time and in the top 5% of 15M+ research articles scored by Altmetric.
By reaching out to Derbyshire as a friend instead of with anger or hostility, the two men were able to do important scientific research. While Derbyshire still supports legal abortion, he has since changed his mind on fetal pain.
“We can find important common ground with our ideological opposites, whether or not any minds change,” Brockmann told Secular Pro-Life. “This ability has huge implications for happiness and meaning, especially with how polarized our world is becoming. We must engage with curiosity, respect, and passion. I want everyone to know this!”
Read more at Secular Pro-Life.
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