Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Fetus Pain Unlikely Before 3rd Trimester-Study
This from Reuters:
CHICAGO (Reuters) - A human fetus is unlikely to feel pain before the third trimester, when consciousness begins to form, researchers said on Tuesday in a report that could fuel debate over proposed U.S. abortion legislation.
Even if a fetus feels pain, doctors may not be able to anesthetize it without endangering the mother's health, including during an abortion, the researchers wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Legislation under consideration by the U.S. Congress and some U.S. states would require doctors to inform women seeking abortions after the 22nd week of gestation that their fetus feels pain and offer to anesthetize the fetus.
Supporters of the legislation say that when a fetus displays a withdrawal reflex or hormonal stress response, that is evidence of fetal pain. But the researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, questioned that view, saying the responses may be automatic and not signs of discomfort (GOI: Not unlike Terri Schiavo).
Drawing on findings from thousands of medical-journal articles on the subject of fetal pain and related topics, the report's author, Susan Lee, wrote that "pain is a subjective sensory and emotional experience that requires the presence of consciousness."
Consciousness is created by brain connections between the thalamus and the cerebral cortex, and those do not begin to develop before the 23rd week and possibly not before the 30th week of gestation. The human gestation period is 38 weeks from conception.
GOI: The only thing that I will say about this report is that it seems to bolster the pro-choice arguement. I do not know of anyone who wants to see more abortions but it is comforting to know that the fetus does not feel pain if it is aborted before the 23rd week.
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