Changing tactics in the abortion
argument: does a fetus feel pain?

by
Goodman NW.
Southmead Hospital, Bristol.
Br J Hosp Med. 1997 Dec 10;58(11):550.


ABSTRACT

The 30th anniversary of the passing of the abortion law in England sparked off yet another skirmish in the continuing struggle. Not only the Catholic Church but also anti-lobby groups have protested against the abortion law. Anti-lobby groups consider abortion as an evil that must be fought. To further explain their point, the anti-lobby groups used the conclusions on pediatric anesthetic practice to change their tactics in combating the abortion issue from the emotional point of view to the apparently rational. A group of pediatricians, anesthetists, bioethicists and neuroanatomists has considered the problem of when the fetus may first be able to feel pain. They have decided that the fetus cannot feel pain before the 26th week and recommended that the fetus be given an anesthetic for any abortion later than the 24th week. The anti-lobby groups say that this view limits the perception of pain to the cerebral cortex and that the thalamus is well enough developed by the 10th week for the growing embryo to feel the pain. However, as to the question of fetal pain, one can never know whether fetuses feel pain, because they can never tell.
People
Arousal
Awareness
Scopolamine
Brain microtubules
Obstetric anaesthesia
Molecular mechanisms
The spongia somnifera
'My beloved chloroform'
'The secularisation of pain'
Functional neuroanatony of awareness
Intraoperative waking during anaesthesia



Refs
and further reading

general-anaesthesia.com
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