When does a baby first start feeling pain?
This was the argument between Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Diana Feinstein (D-CA) on Tuesday after Graham reintroduced his Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act on Tuesday.
You can see Graham’s opening statement below:
Note some of Graham’s most notable quotes:
The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would provide common-sense protections for unborn children at 20 weeks after fertilization, a point at which there is significant scientific evidence that abortion inflicts tremendous pain on the unborn child.
America is at her best when she is standing up for the least among us. We know that an unborn child at the twentieth week of pregnancy can feel pain. In fact, anesthesia is administered directly to the unborn child in second trimester fetal surgery.
If medical science tells us that the baby is well-developed at five months… developed enough to feel excruciating pain in a procedure to save the baby’s life, then we should have restrictions on abortion. You can only imagine the pain that comes from dismemberment.
The bill focuses on the abortion provider, not the mother. There can be no prosecution of the woman; the penalties will lie against the abortionist. And it is a simple concept: at five months, abortion on demand will stop. You will have exceptions for the life of the mother and pregnancies that occur from rape and incest.
These are emotional issues, but the country needs to come to grips with the reality of 2019. In 2019, because of the advancement of medical science, we know an unborn child in the fifth month of the birthing process can recognize sounds, has ten fingers and ten toes, can stretch, can yawn, and can feel pain. It is up to people in legislative bodies to come to their aid and prevent an excruciating death and have exceptions that make sense.
Senator Feinstein was not impressed with Graham’s argument in favor of the bill, and gave a rebuttal that you can see below:
Now as you can see from the video, most of her argument was feelings-based, with nothing to do with dealing with the pain that infants in the womb experience when being torn apart.
Regarding the problem with pain, her comments were limited to the following:
Let me take the subject of pain. Let me begin by quoting the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. This is the premier professional organization:
‘Here are the scientific facts concerning fetal pain: a human fetus does not have the capacity to experience pain until after viability. Rigorous scientific studies have found that the connections necessary to transmit signals from peripheral sensory nerves to the brain, as well as the brain structures necessary to process those signals, do not develop until at least 24 weeks of gestation. Because it lacks these connections and structures, the fetus does not even have the physiological capacity to perceive pain until at least 24 weeks of gestation.’
I could go on but I ask this statement from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists be entered into the record.
Let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that her assertion is correct that it’s possible that the baby doesn’t actually feel pain until 24 weeks of gestation.
Wouldn’t that be proof that there should be legislation protecting them? Should there be nothing done?
What if only some of the infants experience pain at 20 weeks? Should they have to suffer? And why isn’t there consensus?
These questions were answered after a few more witnesses offered insight.
As reported by CNS:
Dr. Donna Harrison, executive director of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, spoke in favor of the bill and provided insight into why both sides seemed to be talking past each other’s facts.
She stated: “It is scientific fact that 20-week babies are very sensitive to pain. They react the same way that you do. They withdraw from painful stimuli, they release stress hormones, their heart rate increases, and their breathing increases.”
So while not contesting Feinstein’s assertion that fetuses at 20 weeks still have some incomplete neurological structures, Harrison did reveal that their physical reactions to painful stimuli are almost indistinguishable from that of an already-born human being.
This might explain why fetuses at this stage are anesthetized prior to an abortion.