On May 12, 2015, David A. Prentice, Ph.D., Vice President and Research Director of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, was invited to speak on the science of fetal pain on Point of View radio talk show. On May 13, 2015 the United States House of Representatives passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.
The full transcript is below:
Ms. Penna Dexter: We want to talk about fetal pain […] because this bill is so much stronger. It actually bans abortions after twenty weeks, and that’s because – I don’t think there’s a doubt now that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks?
Dr. David Prentice: The science is pretty conclusive at this point. And there are always going to be people, especially those in favor of abortion, who will say, “Oh that really doesn’t happen, and they’ll throw up a smokescreen. And what they usually do is they refer to an old study back in 2005 that was published actually by people who had associations with Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.
During a hearing on a bill that would ban late-term abortions nationwide, an expert on human embryonic development informed members of the committee that unborn babies have the capacity to feel pain as early as 8 weeks.
On May 23, 2013, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, Chaired by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) held a hearing on the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, H.R. 1797. Below are links to videos from the hearing and to the transcript of testimony on the science of pain by Dr. Maureen Condic.
Maureen Condic, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy at the University of Utah and obtained her Ph.D. from University of California, Berkeley. She is a widely published scientist whose works have appeared in a wide variety of peer-reviewed journals.
A new chapter published by Dr. Carlo Bellieni in a prestigious German encyclopedia explores the topic of fetal pain, stating that it is a proven fact that the unborn are able to feel pain, even as early as 20 weeks.
“Fetuses can feel pain. Now we should define it better, but it is a scientific matter of fact,” Dr. Bellini explained in a Feb. 14 interview with CNA. READ MORE HERE
The International Association for the Study of Pain published a clinical update on Fetal Pain in June 2006. Their conclusion was that : The available scientific evidence makes it possible, even probable, that fetal pain perception occurs well before late gestation. Those attempting to deny or delay its occurrence must offer conclusive evidence for the absence of fetal pain at given levels of maturity.
In April 2006, it was reported by the Journal of Neuroscience that a team from University College London found that a premature babies feel pain after analysing brain scans taken when blood samples were being drawn. Lead researcher Professor Maria Fitzgerald said: "We have shown for the first time that the information about pain reaches the brain in premature babies.
Previous research had shown that premature babies are capable of displaying behavioural, physiological and metabolic signs of pain and distress.
However, the measures were all indirect and could be dismissed as bodily reflex reactions, rather than measures of true pain experience. Researchers conducted brain scans on 18 babies in the neonatal unit at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Obstetric Hospital in central London.
The scientists registered the brain activity in the babies - aged between 25 and 45 weeks from conception - before, during and after nurses performed blood tests using a heel lance.
The results showed a surge of blood and oxygen in the sensory area of their brains, meaning the pain was processed in the higher levels of the brain, the team said.
The team claimed the implications of the findings were clear, saying there was a potential for pain experience to influence brain development.
A study which findings were published in the journal, Archives of Disease in Childhood - Fetal and Neonatal Edtion, revealed that unborn babies cry within the womb. Ultrasound videos taken of infants within the womb revealed 28-week-old babies crying in response to a noise stimulus.
A report from the Parliamentary Pro-Life Group in the UK published in 2000 found that the unborn foetus is capable of feeling pain from the tenth week of pregnancy. The report of findings by 15 scientists from Britain, Ireland and Australia said that foetuses can experience pain earlier than previously thought. Of the 165,000 abortions carried out in England and Wales each year, about 100,000 are performed at nine weeks or later.
The report, runs counter to evidence presented in an official review by Maria Fitzgerald, Professor of Neurodevelopmental Biology at University College Hospital, London, which was commissioned by the Health Department. Her review, Foetal Pain - An Update of Current Scientific Knowledge, published in May 1995, concluded that there was no evidence that the foetus could feel pain earlier than 26 weeks because its brain and neurological system were not sufficiently developed.
Some scientists, not linked with the Parliamentary Pro-Life Group, questioned Professor Fitzgerald's conclusion.
As reported in The Times February 2000, Nicholas Fisk and Vivette Glover, two of Britain's foremost researchers on foetal pain, say the issue demands examination. Professor Fisk, Queen Charlotte's Maternity Hospital, Chiswick, London measured levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, in foetuses from which blood samples were taken in the womb.
He found that the level rose sharply as the needle was inserted. "This is the first evidence that the human foetus mounts a definable stress response to a potentially painful stimulus," he said.
Advances in surgery mean that many foetuses undergo operations inside the womb without analgesia even though pain relief is routinely given to premature babies of the same gestational age undergoing the procedure after birth.
In 1996 the Rawlinson Commission of Inquiry into Foetal Sentience, UK, discovered that a large, and growing, body of evidence suggested that a baby can feel pain and sensation from 11 weeks of gestation.
Data in the British Medical Journal, Lancet, gave solid confirmation of such pain. It is known that the foetal umbilical cord has no pain receptors such as the rest of the fetal body. Accordingly, they tested fetal hormone stress response comparing puncturing of the abdomen and of the cord.
They observed "the fetus reacts to intrahepatic (liver) needling with vigorous body and breathing movements, but not to cord needling. The levels of these hormones did not vary with fetal age."
M. Fisk, et al., Fetal Plasma Cortisol and B-endorphin Response to Intrauterine Needling, Lancet, Vol. 344, July 9, 1994, Pg. 77
Another excellent British study commented on this:
"It cannot be comfortable for the fetus to have a scalp electrode implanted on his skin, to have blood taken from the scalp or to suffer the skull compression that may occur even with spontaneous delivery. It is hardly surprising that infants delivered by difficult forceps extraction act as if they have a severe headache."
Valman & Pearson, "What the Fetus Feels," British Med. Jour., Jan. 26, 1980
On 19 November 1987, the New England Journal of Medicine (Volume 317, Number 21: Pages 1321-1329) printed an special article and concluded :
Numerous lines of evidence suggest that even in the human fetus, pain pathways as well as cortical and subcortical centers necessary for pain perception are well developed late in gestation, and the neurochemical systems now known to be associated with pain transmission and modulation are intact and functional. Physiologic responses to painful stimuli have been well documented in neonates of various gestational ages and are reflected in hormonal, metabolic, and cardiorespiratory changes similar to but greater than those observed in adult subjects. Other responses in newborn infants are suggestive of integrated emotional and behavioral responses to pain and are retained in memory long enough to modify subsequent behavior patterns.
The American Medical News reprint reports, "Physicians know that foetuses feel pain ... because [among other things]: "Nerves connecting the spinal cord to peripheral structures have developed between six to eight weeks. Adverse reactions to stimuli are observed between eight and 10 weeks....
You can tell by the contours on their faces that aborted foetuses feel pain," added obstetrician Matthew Bulfin, M.D., of Lauderdale by the Sea, Florida." "He described the case of a 25-year old woman administered a prostaglandin abortion, who expelled her foetus in the middle of the night. Before hospital nurses arrived, she witnessed "the thrashing around and gruesome trauma on his face, and knew that the foetus had suffered."
MD Group Claims that Foetuses Suffer Pain," in American Medical News. (pub. by The American Medical Association), Feb. 24 1984, p. 18
A Realtime ultrasound video tape and movie of a 12- week suction abortion is commercially available as, The Silent Scream, narrated by Dr. B. Nathanson, a former abortionist. It dramatically, but factually, shows the pre-born baby dodging the suction instrument time after time, while its heartbeat doubles in rate. When finally caught, its body being dismembered, the baby's mouth clearly opens wide - hence, the title. Proabortionists have attempted to discredit this film. A well documented paper refuting their charges is available from National Right to Life, 419 7th St. NW, Washington, DC 20004, $2.00 p.p.
A short, 10-minute video showing the testimony of the doctor who did the abortion in Silent Scream definitely debunks any criticism of Silent Scream's accuracy. The Answer, Bernadel, Inc., P.O. Box 1897, Old Chelsea Station, New York, NY, 10011.
In response to experiments performed on 12 to 16 week foetuses, movements of the head, body and limbs have been observed. These movements were vigorous, and consisted of ventro - or dorsoflexion of the trunk, flexion of the limbs, and turning of the head, indicating the presence of acute foetal pain. It is agreed that a foetus must be heavily sedated before intrauterine manipulation, such as transfusions, because such painful stimuli cause the foetus to move, making the procedure difficult.
In the sixth to seventh weeks, nerves and muscles work together for the first time. If the area of the lips, the first to become sensitive to touch, is gently stroked, the child responds by bending the upper body to one side and making a quick backward motion with his arms. In the ninth and tenth weeks, the child's activity leaps ahead. Now if the forehead is touched, he may turn his head away and pucker up his brow and frown. In the same week, the entire body becomes sensitive to touch.
AMICUS CURIAE 1971 Motion and Brief Amicus Curiae of Certain Physicians, Professors and Fellows of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology in Support of appellees, submitted to the Supreme Court of the United States, October Term, 1971, No. 70-18, Roe v. Wade, and No. 70-40, Doe v. Bolton. Prepared by Dennis J. Horan, et.al. (The List of Amici contains the names of over 200 physicians.)