By 10 weeks, the palms of the hands are sensitive to touch, and at 11 weeks the face and extremities likewise respond to tactile stimuli. By 13.5 weeks, these responses are sufficiently elaborate and sufficiently avoidant to warrant the definite conclusion that the foetus responds aversively, not reflexively. They evidence an integrated physiological attempt to escape noxious stimuli.
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.)
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.
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
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.