Tuesday, September 17, 2013

When Does a Fetus First Experience Pain

An extraordinary discussion is taking place as to when a fetus first feels pain.  At issue is whether pain can be felt prior to 24 weeks of fetal age.  Does it really make a difference?  If one is in favor of abortion, does the fact that that the fetus reacts to pain really matter?  If so, should those performing abortions actually anesthetize the fetus prior to aborting it?  Should the fetus be "put to sleep," so to speak, before the abortive procedure?

Now there is absolutely no consensus as to the exact time when fetal neuronal development matures to the point where pain can be experienced.  Moreover, if one argues that pain can first be manifest at, lets say, 24 weeks, there are invariably going to be fetuses that may have developed this ability sometime before that age, and others sometime after - just as a newborn babies vary in development.  Some babies can sit up at six months, others somewhat earlier, still others somewhat later.  One cannot pinpoint such things!

Believe it or not, there are still those who believe that eight-day old boys undergoing circumcision require no anesthesia as they are "too immature to feel pain."  The circumcision is performed nevertheless - without anesthesia.

For those who oppose abortion the decision is easy.  Whether a fetus does or does not experience pain is not an issue.  Abortion is wrong.  For those who are pro-choice - should it matter?  In a properly performed abortion, any pain that the fetus may feel would be extremely short-lived.  Is this enough to precede the operation with anesthesia?

Doesn't it seem strange to have to anesthetize a fetus prior to aborting it?  

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