Fetuses Cannot Feel Pain Until 35 Weeks, According To Study


A new study out of England once more affirms the idea that a 20 week gestation fetus is not actually able to feel pain, despite anti-choice claims otherwise.

Via ABC News:

Using EEG, researchers recorded the babies’ brain activity in response to pain, comparing their pain responses from a touch and prick on the heels. The findings were published in the journal Current Biology.

“Babies can distinguish painful stimuli as different from general touch from around 35 to 37 weeks gestation — just before an infant would normally be born,” Lorenzo Fabrizi, lead author of the study, said in a statement.

The babies, who were 28 to 35 weeks in the womb, showed the same bursts of brain activity for the touch and the heel lance, but babies at more than 35 weeks’ gestation had a greater burst of activity in response to the lance than the simple touch.

“The findings … should help inform the pain perception portion of the abortion debate,” said Dr. F. Sessions Cole, director of the division of newborn medicine at Washington University School of Medicine at St. Louis. “Although this study specifically addresses brain wave differences between premature and term infants, not fetuses, after [receiving] painful and tactile stimuli, it suggests that brain maturation required for fetal pain perception occurs in late pregnancy, more than 11 weeks after the legal limit for abortion in the United States.

There are currently five states banning abortion prior to viability over an alleged accusation of “fetal pain.”

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  • progo35

    That is crap. My nephew was born at 25 weeks. He definitely felt pain before 35 weeks when he was injected with needles, etc-despite at least one doctor saying that he couldn’t while he was screaming in pain from the needle she was injecting into his shoulder.

  • progo35

    That is crap. My nephew was born at 25 weeks. He definitely felt pain before 35 weeks when he was injected with needles, etc-despite at least one doctor saying that he couldn’t while he was screaming in pain from the needle she was injecting into his shoulder.

  • elburto

    Once an idiot, always an idiot eh progo?

    If someone has been born then they are NOT IN UTERO. A foetus cannot feel pain until weeks before birth due to the conditions in utero. Once someone has been born, and is no longer subject to the tranquilising conditions in the uterus, then they will react to stimuli but not necessarily pain as we would understand it because their nervous system is still underdeveloped. If your nephew exists then he was almost certainly reacting to stimuli and to being wholly unprepared for life in the outside world.

    This disproves the bullshit touted by your anti-choice buddies that abortion should be disallowed after 20wks as it causes pain.

  • prochoiceferret

    Thank you, Progo35! Your anecdotes have once again saved us from being misled by reputable, peer-reviewed science!

  • progo35

    I guess you both can share the idiot hat, since the study was based on observations of babies that were ALREADY BORN, NOT ones in utero.

  • progo35

    It also strikes me that plunging pins into the feet of babies is an unethical way to gather information.

  • elburto

    The studies have been done in order to DISPROVE American “scientific” findings that claim foetuses in utero can feel pain, a claim that has been used to deny women the right to reproductive choice. So, any claims that foetuses under 34 weeks can experience pain are demonstrably false, ergo there is no reason for 20-week “foetal pain” exemptions.

  • elburto

    Babies will cry if there’s a burst of bright light or a loud sound, that doesn’t mean they’re in pain.

    But then I’d cry if someone was “injecting needles” into me, instead of going the usual route of using a needle attached to a syringe to inject drugs into me. Was she an acupuncturist?

  • progo35

    Oh, please, Elburto. Use your so-called “scientific” approach to discuss issues instead of quibbling over people’s phraseology.

  • progo35

    Exactly. Studies done with a completely ideological, not scientific, purpose. Moreover, the argument you just made is not a scientific one-you just reasoned: “This study was done in order to disprove American studies indicating that fetuses feel pain, which have been used to try to restrict abortions, therefore, any claims that fetuses under 34 (Gee, I thought it was 35?) weeks feel pain is demonstrably false.” The fact is that fetal pain will continue to be debated in scientific literature as new information becomes available-there is no way to know exactly what fetuses feel.

  • prochoiceferret

    Exactly. Studies done with a completely ideological, not scientific, purpose.

     

    Studies certainly are ideologically-purposed when you don’t agree with their conclusions!

     

    The fact is that fetal pain will continue to be debated in scientific literature as new information becomes available-there is no way to know exactly what fetuses feel.

     

    Yes, and perhaps we should wait until the weight of scientific evidence suggests that fetuses do feel pain before we pass restrictive fetal-pain laws.

  • ack

    I think that a warm uterus that a human can float in is generally more awesome than the world. Any thoughts on how the actual environment of the uterus might dull or nullify physical senses?

  • ack

    It also strikes me that plunging pins into the feet of babies is an unethical way to gather information.

     

    They weigh the value of the information they can potentially gather with the risk of the subjects. A board of directors makes the final choice.

     

    We rshove needles into infants all the time. Do you object to all the other tests, or just the ones that actually attempt to measure the experience of pain?

     

     

     

  • wendy-banks

    Why blind? Because you’d have to be blind to buy it.

     

    Try science, it works better.

  • crowepps

    I assumed that they had set up the experiment so that they could measure the pain perception during a test which was going to be performed anyway, like the PKU heel prick done on all newborns to gather a blood sample.  Is there some information this was a pin prick pain specifically for the test instead of a test during a pin prick that would have been done anyway?

     

    I ask because I remember some years back when there was a volcano of outrage over a research study in New York that showed how far cats could fall and survive, and a whole bunch of hysterical people leapt to the erroneous conclusion cats were being dropped out of windows or thrown off buildings for research purposes, and then when someone actually thought to check the research paper, it was clear the study was done by gathering information from veterinarians who treated cats after falls from their owners’ balconies, and the researchers never had contact with the cats at all.

     

    It would be interesting to do some research on whether people who get all hysterical and upset about this sort of issue have particularly morbid imaginations, and think up really disgusting stuff, and then project it out onto others and insist people are really doing it in real life.  I vaguely remember something about a connection between an intense fear of one’s own mortality and morbid psychological symptoms but I can’t remember where and google is not helpful.

  • rachel-larris

    If you really think about it, it’s makes perfect sense for a developing fetus NOT to develop advanced sensativity until extremely late in the pregancy. This is still a fetus in a womb, it’s going to get a lot of outside stimuli (bumping, jumping, moving, shaking). You don’t want the fetus in distress at 15 weeks because the mother walked down a flight of steps and it “felt” every jolt.

  • crowepps

    I can remember times in my pregnancies when the awkward position of the fetus jammed it up against a bone or organ in a way that was just massively uncomfortable.  Having the fetus suffer reciprocal pain through having its head grinding into the pelvic bone or its foot jammed up into a rib would be horrible.

     

    In addition, just as when two people bump their heads together both heads hurt, surely if the fetus felt pain the skull + pelvic bone position would result in pain + pain, and yet it wasn’t my experience that the fetus reacted as though it was suffering pain, by flinching away.  I had to physically adjust things myself until I could get it to ‘scoot over’, so to speak, and it sometimes took a while to get it to do so.

  • elburto

    I made a comment about PKU heel-sticks when I was here the other night, hit ‘submit’ and my battery died before it posted.

    I think in progoworld babies aren’t born sick because the evil librul wimmenz are aborting en masse and cackling gleefully about it. What it doesn’t realise, is that all newborns are tested for PKU (testing everyone who’s born is cheaper than treating one undiagnosed child), that newborns are all tested for their response to stimuli (APGAR doesn’t exist in progoworld either) and often they’re given a vitamin K shot after birth as well, along the same line of reasoning as the PKU test.

    Progoworld, where evil librulz jab babies with random sharp objects for shits and giggles, where anything that disproves his antichoice view is propaganda – that’s a scary world. You’ve have to worry about people with that mindset, with their strawbabies and fear that women might leave their kitchens.

  • elburto

    I’ve never thought of it that way. Banging your head or twisting your foot is awful, can you imagine the effect of reciprocal back labour on a baby?

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