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Anesthesia for the Unborn

by Michael L. Gonzalez

August 28, 2000

In the articles below you will read that medical doctors are debating how soon after conception an unborn child can feel pain.  The reason for the debate is to decide whether the unborn child should be given anesthesia before killing it (or should I say "terminating the pregnancy?").

Keep in mind that the doctors who believe that the unborn child can feel pain (and therefore needs anesthesia) are doctors who believe abortion should be legal and available at will.

Is it just me?  How can a person argue that the unborn child can certainly feel pain, but once anesthetized can be killed?  Absolutely horrific!


The unprotected
News: Babies may feel pain of abortion

WHEN does an unborn child first feel pain? There is no conclusive
answer but, as we report today, the balance of scientific opinion
is slowly changing. Some doctors now believe that an embryo can
experience distress from as early as 13 weeks.

The Women and Children's Welfare Fund is concerned by the 20,000
abortions a year performed between that period and 24 weeks, and
point out that a fetus - unlike a pre-born guinea pig or
hedgehog - has no protection under the law.

Whether embryos feel pain is not the be-all and end-all of the
abortion debate. Many would argue, for example, that terminations
are always wrong, since they represent the deliberate taking of
human lives. However, most people believe that abortion, though
in itself undesirable, can sometimes be justified. They are
rightly affected by whether an embryo experiences suffering at
all, and if so how early this can take place.

The rough rule over recent years has been that the more
scientists have discovered about the embryo, the earlier they
have placed its capacity for feeling pain. As Jack Scarisbrick,
chairman of the charity Life, has put it: "The evidence is
accumulating that the pre-born child is sentient much earlier
than we have assumed." Many who do not hold his pro-life views
will find it hard to disagree.

For this reason, and others besides, a substantial segment of
public opinion is increasingly uneasy both about those 20,000
abortions and the present exceptions to the 24-week limit. It is
strange and discomforting, after all, to think that a pre-born
rat enjoys greater protection under the law than a human embryo.
It is time that this was changed. The best vehicle for reform
would, surely, be a Private Member's Bill.

Read the actual article


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