Medical evidence shows an unborn child can feel pain by 20 weeks according to Fetal Pain: The Evidence, updated this month on the doctorsonfetalpain.com website.
At just 8 weeks, an unborn child responds to touch; by 20 weeks, he can react to painful stimuli by flinching, for example. These reactions can be observed on real-time ultrasounds.
Since these stimuli can cause an unborn child’s stress hormone levels to rise significantly, surgeons operating on unborn children routinely use fetal anesthesia to lower their stress hormones, the article notes.
An unborn child at 20 weeks probably feels pain more intensely than an adult would. The Wisconsin Right to Life website quotes Dr. Paul Ranalli, a neurologist at the University of Toronto, as stating that “the pain system is fully established, yet the higher level pain-modifying system has barely begun to develop.”
Robert J. White, M.D., PhD, professor of neurosurgery, Case Western University has said”An unborn child at 20 weeks gestation is fully capable of experiencing pain…Without question, [abortion] is a dreadfully painful experience for any infant subjected to such a surgical procedure.”
Further evidence is provided by David Birnback,M.D., president of the Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology, in testimony before the Congress of the United Sates. He identifies himself as ‘pro-choice’. Dr. Birnback presented that “On occasion we need to administer anesthesia directly to the fetus, because even at these early gestational ages the fetus moves away from the pain of the stimulation.”
Despite such medical evidence, painful abortion procedures such as dilation and evacuation (D&E), prostaglandin abortion and saline abortion continue to be used.
Seven U.S. states require that women considering an abortion be given information about fetal pain and/or the option of anesthesia for the unborn child, noted Jessica Lamb in “Fetal pain laws gain steam as scientific knowledge improves,” her September 2012 article in The Interim. Some states have banned abortions after 20 weeks based on scientific evidence that an unborn child can feel pain during an abortion.
The Arkansas legislature just passed a law banning all abortions after 20 weeks gestation on February 2013 .
Some scientific data shows that the unborn child might feel pain earlier than 20 weeks. Many abortion advocates, however, continue to claim that an unborn child does not experience pain.
In August 2012, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act received strong support in the U.S. House of Representatives. This act would have made abortions after 20 weeks’ gestation illegal because the unborn child could feel pain. However, as reported in a National Right to Life Committee press release, the bill failed to receive the required two-thirds majority of votes.
Abortions were first allowed in Canada with the passage of an omnibus bill in May 1969. This bill decriminalized the procedure under certain conditions.
Abortion is now permitted during all nine months of pregnancy since Canada’s abortion law was struck down in 1988 by the Supreme Court in the Morgentaler decision.