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Friday, April 14, 2006

Fetal pain

Lots of states have passed laws that require abortion providers to tell people considering abortion that a fetus can feel pain; some states, I believe, go farther and require doctors to offer anesthesia for the fetus before an abortion. Why do pro-lifers do this? Well, like all of the roadblocks they throw up in front of abortions, it's because they think very little of a woman's intellect, considering a pregnant woman who is considering abortion to be too stupid to figure things out on her own.

Also, like many of the other things pro-lifers say about abortion (cancer links, depression links, etc.) this one is also completely wrong. Pharyngula has a post about a study on whether a fetus can feel pain, and pro-lifers aren't going to like the result. The bottom line is that before 25 weeks, it is physically impossible for a fetus to feel pain: the connections simply aren't there. Even after that, though, there is little evidence that a fetus can feel pain before birth, and perhaps even afterwards. To use an analogy, after 25 weeks a fetus may have the rudimentary hardware in the brain for this function to work, but no software. And any computer without software is junk a hunk of useless junk. The pain-feeling software comes later, maybe surprisingly so.

I'm not going to hold my breath and wait for pro-lifers to admit that they are wrong and stop peddling obvious falsehoods to people, though.

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