New Report Says a Fetus Can't Feel Pain Before 24 Weeks

By Joseph Calamia | June 25, 2010 4:05 pm

24weeksIn a development that’s certain to stir passions in the abortion debate, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the UK published a report today on “fetal awareness.” The group states, citing a review of current research, that human fetuses cannot feel pain before 24 weeks.

The group’s reasoning, as described in a press release, is based on these points:

-The fetus cannot feel pain before 24 weeks because the connections in the fetal brain are not fully formed
-The fetus, while in the chemical environment of the womb, is in a state of induced sleep and is unconscious
-Because the 24 week-old fetus has no awareness nor can it feel pain, the use of analgesia is of no benefit
-More research is needed into the short and long-term effects of the use of fetal analgesia post-24 weeks [Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists]

This is certainly not the first debate over whether a fetus can feel pain. Fetal surgeries have led doctors to ask this question, as they determined whether anesthesia was appropriate and at what stage in development. As summarized in a 2008 New York Times Magazine article, researchers have looked at fetal flinch responses, heart rate, and levels of stress hormones. But any metric has remained controversial. Take stress hormones, for example. Do you say that any fetus that can release these hormones feels pain? Or do you wait until it develops the nervous system to register those hormones? Or do you say that an undeveloped nervous system makes the fetus more susceptible to pain, since it hasn’t developed the system to suppress it?

In April, Kanwaljeet Anand, director of the Pain Neurobiology Laboratory at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis and an often-quoted researcher in the debate, described some of the issues:

When a fetus of that age [18 to 20 weeks] gets a blood transfusion, for example, changes in heart rate and blood pressure accompany shifts in circulation and spikes in stress hormones. A morphine-like drug calms all of those responses down. “The die-hards will say these are all reflexes,” Anand said. But new evidence, he argued, suggests that the very young brain is developed enough in the right places to take in those sensations and translate them into pain. [Discovery News]

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ report differs from Anand’s assessment, and argues that fetuses younger than 24 weeks don’t have the brain connections to register pain, and if they could register the chemical signals, they couldn’t make out what they mean.

The report on pain perception says: “It was apparent that connections from the periphery to the cortex are not intact before 24 weeks of gestation and, as most neuroscientists believe that the cortex is necessary for pain perception, it can be concluded that the foetus cannot experience pain in any sense prior to this gestation.” Even after 24 weeks, “it is difficult to say that the foetus experiences pain because this, like all other experiences, develops post-natally along with memory and other learned behaviours”. [The Gaurdian]

Understanding when a fetus can feel pain has implications for abortion laws, and groups on both side of the debate have weighed in on today’s reports.

As the BBC reports, those in the United Kingdom question the reports’ implications for the 1967 Abortion Act, which covers all parts of the UK apart from Northern Ireland, and caps legal abortion at 24 weeks (with some exceptions, regarding dangers to the life of the pregnant woman or evidence of serious fetal abnormality). Some activists had campaigned to reduce that timeframe, but UK government representatives have said that there are currently no plans to change the act.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “The Prime Minister’s view is that he will be led by the science.” She added: “At the moment there are no plans to change the policy.” [BBC]

Related content:

DISCOVER: When Does a Fetus Feel Pain?
80beats: Sex-Selective Abortions in China Have Produced 32 Million Extra Boys
80beats: Obama to Rescind “Conscience” Rule on Abortion and Birth Control
80beats: Federal Rule Lets Doctors Deny Medical Care Based on Religious Concerns
80beats: Leftover Embryos at Fertility Clinics Pose Troubling Questions for Patients

Image: flickr / Chris Denbow

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine
  • http://doctorcrankenstein.wordpress.com/ Doctor Crankenstein

    As insightful and useful as this is to the abortion debate I don’t really think it will be of any benefit. The abortion debate is so heavily intertwined with religion that scientific studies like this will be relatively useless.

  • Mrm

    I agree with Doctor Crankestein.

  • ChH

    While this is a very useful line of research as it applies to anesthesia during fetal medical treatment, it is completely irrelevant to the morality of abortion.
    The only question in the abortion debate is: Is the fetus human? If so, the temporary inability to feel pain does not make it OK to kill the fetus any more than it is OK to kill someone with severe leprosy or who is under anesthesia.
    Conversely, if a fetus is not human, it is fine to kill it even if pain is inflicted.

  • http://www.cmf.org.uk Dionysius

    How seriously should we take the RCOG’s recent report claiming that fetuses cannot feel pain until 24 weeks gestation? Not very! http://bit.ly/aIKyQD

  • Wong

    @chH You are absurd: ” The only question in the abortion debate is: Is the

    fetus human? If so, the temporary inability to feel pain does not make it

    OK to kill the fetus any more than it is OK to kill someone with severe

    leprosy or who is under anesthesia.

    Conversely, if a fetus is not human, it is fine to kill it even if pain is

    inflicted. ” First of all,a person under anesthesia and someone with

    leprosy are already conscious and in existence. They are not comparable to

    a fetus.

    Secondly, are you trying to show how ridiculous what you’re saying is? I

    mean, do you really think that or is that a clever attempt to show how

    coherently incoherent and ridiculous this opinion is?

  • cgray

    Do liberals feel pain? Who gives a sh*t–kick their asses just for fun. They seem to like killing babies for the same reason.

  • ChH

    Wong, a person under anesthesia is not conscious, but I concede that they are in existence. Of course, a fetus is also in existence and not conscious…
    Or were you trying to argue that a fetus is not in existence??

    Finally, that you and David Wong wish it so does not make abortion a human right.

  • http://feminazi.wordpress.com m Andrea

    The only LEGITIMATE question in the abortion debate is: does any entity have the legal right to force another into sacrificing a kidney? If someone trespasses onto your property without your consent, do you have the legal obligation to provide them with free room and board? The pro-slavery folks are not consistent.

  • Wong

    @chH Is there a difference between not being conscious and not having a consciousness? You went to get your example of a person under anaesthesia pretty far. Let’s say I am trying to argue that a fetus is not in existence, how would you define existence? Are you, trying to argue that it is wrong to abort the existence of existing beings? ( I agree that hopes don’t mean anything. ) So your argument is that abortion is not a human right because humans are better than everything in the world. Is that correct?

  • ChH

    m Andrea, if the fetus is a person, killing it is murder. The only exception would be if before viability, killing the fetus could save the mother, since the fetus would die anyway if the mother dies. Even those who deny the humanity (what a long glorious tradition that line of reasoning has!) of a fetus concede that if left to grow it will one day be human. The same cannot be said of a kidney.
    Your slavery argument only applies to pregnancy from rape anyway. Everyone else made choices that resulted in the pregnancy. Even then – IMHO the right of the mother to nine months of her life should give way to the right of the child to its entire life. That’s what I believe – but let the states decide (see below).

    Wong, you’re the one who brought up existence – how do you define it? As for “better than everything…” – I do believe that humans have rights – probably best described in the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution & Amendments: summarized as Life, Liberty & Persuit of Happiness. No other animal has those rights.

    My “human right” comment was an overly subtle play on “Two Wongs don’t make a right”.

    I’ve intentionally used the phrase “I believe” several times. Here’s what is fact: Roe-v-Wade is bad law, and should be overturned so that the states’ legislatures can each decide their abortion policy for themselves. If you don’t like your state’s policy, either suck it up or leave. But this doubly unconstitutional federal mandating of policy by the courts has made the issue more devisive than necessary.

  • scribbler

    Let’s avoid the metaphores, huh?

    The ONLY question is: Does abortion end an innocent human life?

  • Wong

    Good. What makes you think a fetus is a person? Is it a person after three days of cell multiplication, is it a person when it doesn’t feel pain and when it doesn’t have a conciousness and when it doesn’t have a past? How could it be wrong to abort a fetus if you cannot cause it harm? You said a fetus is a person, but where is your explanation? What makes you say it has a life more valuable than any other living being as soon as the cells start multiplying? If you think human cells are wrong to abort, then you are against growing a human lung in a laboratory and killing it after the experiment. If wolves had a declaration of independence to tell you what to think about them then you would use: ” the phrase “I believe” several times.”

  • scribbler

    What makes you think it isn’t?

    Let’s look at a thought experiment. We have two lumps of human flesh. Neither is capable of thought or of sustaining life on it’s own. Usual organs are either missing or nonfunctional and life must be sustained by a means other than itself. Now, one blob of flesh was once a human and is on life support by a machine and the other is attached to a female to support the life in that flesh. Please explain the scientific principals that cause you to call one a human life and the other a “choice”…

  • James

    Interesting all this debate about “is it human or is it not?” What about a debate around “responsibility”? No one gets pregnant accidentally. We know what causes pregnancy, and we know when we engage in the act that it might end in pregnancy and we know that all possible precautions to prevent pregnancy have their limitations. What about taking responsibility for your own actions.

    BTW, the ‘science’ in this case is a load of crap. Any woman who has had a baby knows it can feel pain earlier than that. Simple experience tells them that much.

  • amphiox

    BTW, the ’science’ in this case is a load of crap. Any woman who has had a baby knows it can feel pain earlier than that. Simple experience tells them that much.

    No, all they can know is that the fetus can react to painful stimulus. That is different from feeling, which requires conscious awareness.

  • ChH

    Wong:
    First, my original point was that personhood is the only real question in the abortion debate. The ability to feel pain is irrelevant.

    What makes me think a fetus is a person? For starters, from the dictionary: “Fertilization (conception) is the fusion of gametes to produce a new organism of the same species”
    I believe a new person comes into existence at conception, when a new set of genes comes together. The only other such definitive time in a person’s life is birth. To argue that an awake and kicking late-term fetus that, if removed living from the womb, would be called a baby and a person, is actually not a person is absurd – so personhood certainly starts at some point before birth. Every step of development between conception and birth is a gradual one – there is no step in between where you can say “at this moment it was x but a moment later it is y”.

    As I already said, tissue such as lungs, kidneys, blood or gametes do not comprise a new person – they are part of a person. So if you want to take a piece of a human and grow a lung in the lab & then kill it – or take a blood or gamete sample to be later discarded, that’s fine (I’m not Catholic). I’m against taking a new human and killing it to grow that lung.

    Wolves??? Obviously they’re incapable of writing their own DoI. It is morally fine to kill a wolf, even if it causes pain in the process – although you should obviously be humane & minimize the pain.

    So much for my opinion. The facts are that personhood and perhaps viability (not the ability to feel pain) are the only interesting questions in the abortion debate, and either the states should each decide the issue or the US constitution should be amended.

  • amphiox

    ChH, scribbler et al,

    All this talk about the fetus in all your arguments, and not one mention of the woman.

    There is never “only one” question in the abortion debate. There is always, always, at least two.

    Even if we grant that the fetus IS fully human, the pro-life position gives the fetus a right that no other human being has – the right to violate the physical and medical integrity of another human being AGAINST HER WILL. No one else has this right. I cannot force you to donate your kidney to me if I am dying of kidney failure. I cannot force you to give me monthly blood transfusions over 9 months even if I will die without them, not even if you will come to no harm at all at the end of it. It would be nice of you to do so for me but I cannot force you, nor ask the state to force you on my behalf. But the pro-life position gives the fetus an equivalent right. This is only justifiable if we choose to give the fetus a status not only as human, but as MORE human than a woman.

    An unwanted pregnancy is a tragedy for all concerned. Two wrongs don’t make a right, but there IS NO RIGHT in this situation, only two wrongs, and we must decide which wrong is the lesser wrong. And then, after deciding, that, we then must determine if the difference between the greater and the lesser wrong is so large that it is justifiable for the state to use its coercive power to enforce the lesser wrong over the greater one.

  • amphiox

    The argument from personal responsibility is an interesting one from the point of view of personal ethics, but from a legal perspective, until such time that medical science makes it possible for men to become pregnant (and quite possibly even then), it is irrelevant to the abortion debate.

  • http://feminazi.wordpress.com m Andrea

    The pro-slavery folks unilaterally deny the personhood of the babyfactory. We know this to be true, because they are the only ones who would force a female to act as a surrogate life support system for another, but not force a male to do the same. The courts have ruled that ALL human beings have the legal right to refuse to act as a surrogate life support system, yet misogynists would cheerfully exclude females from qualifying for the right of refusal under this principle — and there is zero reason to exclude females unless females are somehow considered non-human.

    Here’s the thing: while a fetus may or may not develope into a healthy baby if left entirely to it’s own devices, reasonable people cannot deny the personhood of the host in the process. I understand why you’re fixiated on the baby and I do sympathize, but reasonable people must weigh the rights of both trespasser and property owner. It’s a painful reality with sometimes painful consequences, but you need to accept that all human beings own their kidneys and their uterus as well as any other bodily organ. If only some people are allowed to evict trespassers and some are not, then that is blatant hypocrisy. Your invisible sky fairy friend loathes hypocrisy with a bloody passion, in case you haven’t noticed.

    Besides that, if only god has the right to make life and to take life away, then genuine believers wouldn’t use doctors or medicine to alter their own medical conditions. They would allow god to decide whether to heal them, allow them to suffer, or take them home. Once again, the pro-slavery folks are inconsistent.

  • http://feminazi.wordpress.com m Andrea

    I really think the self-identified believers would see the point more clearly, if all medical personnel refused to treat religious fanatics, period. God wants you to rely on Him to heal you, allow you to suffer, or to take you home — not rely on man-made technology. The medical professionals who treat you for anything are going against God’s plan for your life, and these medical professionals should not be asked to enable your sinning against God.

  • Angela

    @ James: Yes, pregnancy can be accidental! Women can be raped, and incest can occur where girls don’t have a say over their reproductive rights. Outside of these terrible situations, no birth control is 100% effective. So are you really saying that a couple who aren’t ready to have children but who are trying to be responsible by using birth control should just eliminate intimacy and sexual activity from their relationship? Accidents can happen with birth control, or it can be used perfectly according to directions and still fail to prevent pregnancy.

    I’m all people “taking responsibility for their actions”, but what about those who aren’t responsible for the pregnancy in the first place? Or those who tried to prevent pregnancy and don’t have the resources to properly care for a baby?

  • http://feminazi.wordpress.com m Andrea

    But men do get pregnant, haven’t you heard?

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article3628860.ece

    The personhood of slaves is always “irrelevant” to white supremacists, so I’m not sure what your point is. The status of personhood and whether that status should be applied to those who currently lack it, is the entire issue. Do slaves have the right to evict trespassers? We already know humans do, but what about the slaves?

    This is the year 2010, and men still consider women to be non-human. The sexism is never going to stop, so it’s past time for reasonable people to consider alternatives.

  • amphiox

    Now, one blob of flesh was once a human and is on life support by a machine and the other is attached to a female to support the life in that flesh.

    The use of this analogy tells us all we need to know about what scribbler thinks about the personhood of women.

  • scribbler

    A woman’s personhood doesn’t give her the right to murder, does it?

    I used my thought experiment to eliminate the irrelevant arguments and reduce it to science.

  • joebobbillyjack

    You guys are leaving so much out of this debate I don’t even know where to begin.

  • amphiox

    m Andrea, was #22 a response to my #18?

    The status of personhood is in fact not the issue, never was, and never will be. Because even in that situation you have a balance between consideration of the fully human fetus and the fully human woman, and every and all analogous legal precedents favors the woman, completely, in that case. Like you say, every human being has the right to evict a trespasser from his/her property, even if that trespasser is also another human being. Most jurisdictions allow for the use of lethal force in that eviction.

    So the question of personhood for the fetus is a red herring. To justify restricting abortion on that argument, the fetus must in fact NOT be human – it must be MORE than human. The ability of a fetus to feel pain is also a red herring. If it can, then all that means is that fetal anesthesia must be used during abortions – it has absolutely no bearing the question of whether abortion should or should not be allowed.

    The question of personal responsibility is also a red herring. It may or may not be an admirable thing for an individual woman to choose to take personal responsibility for an unwanted pregnancy, accidental or otherwise, and carry the fetus to term, but that has absolutely no relevance to the question of whether the state should be allowed to force all woman to do so.

    What the abortion question is really about is oppression and ownership. We do allow and accept some limited forms of such state oppression when we feel that the consequences are worth it. Should limiting abortion be one of those cases? And who owns a woman’s uterus, the woman herself, or the community (which has an interest in the perpetuation of the next generation)?

    The pro-life position is an argument for the justification of the oppression of women, nothing more and nothing less. All other pro-life arguments that do not acknowledge this fundamental fact are dishonest.

    My facetious hypothetical of a male pregnancy was merely intended to call attention to the fundamental biological unfairness underpinning this issue that makes it wholly a question of oppression women. (If men could become pregnant and suffered the same as women do for it, then it would be an issue of oppressing people in general). The state, if it has any business in this kind of question at all, should as a default be in the business of ameliorating inequalities arising from biological/historical/evolutionary contigencies, not reinforcing them.

  • ChH

    Weighing the rights of the mother verses the fetus: potentially 9 months taken from the mother verses potentially 90 years taken from the fetus. Done.

    As for disallowing pregnancy verses forcing kidney donation – bad analogy:
    1. In all cases except rape, the mother chose to take actions she knew could result in pregnancy.
    2. The mother – not just a woman or any woman, but that particular individual, is required to sustain the life of the new person for the first 5 months or so.

    “Your invisible sky fairy friend” Trying to argue God is OK with abortion? Nice try.

    “God wants you to rely on Him to heal you, allow you to suffer, or to take you home — not rely on man-made technology.”
    First Timothy 5:23: “No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.”
    Matthew 9:12, Mark 2:17, Luke 5:31: But when Jesus heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.”
    Maybe you’re confusing Christianity with “Christian Science”, which is neither Christian, nor Science.

  • amphiox

    Weighing the rights of the mother verses the fetus: potentially 9 months taken from the mother verses potentially 90 years taken from the fetus. Done.

    Does or does not the woman own her own uterus? If she does, then she has the right to evict the fetus, any time she wants. She has the right to employ lethal force, any time she wants. Time is irrelevant to this argument, particularly since, given that 95% of human conceptions end in spontaneous abortions, the potential time taken from the fetus is more likely to be zero.

    1. In all cases except rape, the mother chose to take actions she knew could result in pregnancy.

    Already discussed, with respect to personal responsibility. Similarly completely irrelevant. This is also your typical “blame the slut” argument, and tells us all we need to know about ChH’s ethics with respect to the rights and autonomy of women.

    2. The mother – not just a woman or any woman, but that particular individual, is required to sustain the life of the new person for the first 5 months or so.

    She has the right to give up the child for adoption. In short, she assumes the responsibility of motherhood as a free decision. Only after she accepts the responsibility is she held liable to it, like any other contract. She is not forced, should not be forced, and is not forced, to accept the responsibility. Therefore, also irrelevant.

  • amphiox

    I noted previously that in all the posts nattering about the personhood of the fetus, there was not a single mention of the woman.

    I will also point out, in all the posts now nattering about personal responsibility, not a single mention of the man.

    So, to those of you who argue that the state should be allowed to compel a woman to carry her pregnancy to term, what should the state require of the man?

  • amphiox

    As for disallowing pregnancy verses forcing kidney donation – bad analogy:
    1. In all cases except rape, the mother chose to take actions she knew could result in pregnancy.

    So let’s say you’re the one who actually caused my kidney failure by T-boning my car, giving me a muscle-crush injury that overwhelmed my kidneys. Let’s say you took all the required precautions, but just by freak chance, your brakes failed. You KNEW there was a chance for an accident when you CHOSE to drive your car that day. Do I have the right to take your kidney?

    2. The mother – not just a woman or any woman, but that particular individual, is required to sustain the life of the new person for the first 5 months or so.

    Or were you referring to something biological here? You are aware of a historical profession known as a wetnurse, aren’t you? You do know that numerous historical personages had mothers who died in childbirth and survived those first five months just fine, right?

  • http://feminazi.wordpress.com m Andrea

    Amphiox Says, yes it was, sorry, but I was replying only to the various ideas postulated, not any particular commentor. Personhood of the HOST is the primary question under attack which fuels the entire abortion debate, but I think that’s what you meant. The pro-slavery position implicitly denies the humanity of the host, and so it’s prudent to constantly remind them of that. Most importantly, the kidney argument (or however people usually refer to it) is the ONLY argument in support of abortion rights for which no actual rebuttal exists. Strategy-wise, it’s the only argument worth pursuing.

    We have to be careful with our distinctions or it will bite us later. For instances, there are many women who desire “equality with men” but what’s so wonderful about the right to dominate others since that is the precise right which men do indeed claim for themselves? Plus it begs the question: if everyone is equally able to dominate, then who precisely is left to dominate? And if a woman doesn’t think men as a class are dominating, then the oppression which arises from domination cannot exist! So instead of “equality” I prefer “freedom from sex-based oppression” because it doesn’t have domination as it’s implicit goal, doesn’t automatically assume men are deliberately hurtful, and still manages to include what most people mean by “equality”.

    And since the most fanatical can’t tell the difference between an actual argument and a justification (witness their shotgun approach to excuses) I give them a distraction and then clobber them with logic. I have never lost an argument, btw. Ever. They want to base their non-logical beliefs on their magical bearded sky fairy friend, okay, let’s chat about god’s REAL plan for their life. Ergo: They need to give up relying on modern medicine lest they become a hypocrite.

    ChH, if you’re going to pick and choose which parts of the bible you’re going to accept and reject, then it’s not the Word of God Almighty you are relying on, but your own opinions and your own interpretations. In which case, why aren’t my opinions equally valid in your eyes? How ’bout we use logic instead of fairy dust?

    Amphiox Says: “We do allow and accept some limited forms of such state oppression when we feel that the consequences are worth it. ” Could you give me some examples please? Don’t mean to appear rude at all, but I can’t think of any. People usually bring up war as an example and I hope you’re not going to do that. The government OCCASIONALLY restricts a SOLDIER’S rights to BODILY AUTONOMY in times of war, and so unfortunately the comparison is made to CIVILIAN women in PEACETIME as if women should exist in a perpetual state of SIEGE. Who is attacking us, precisely? Because if men are constantly attacking us with our very humanity under constant threat, then it’s time to end it, using any means necessary. Actually, even in wartime, men are not forced to donate the use of their bodily organs. Fluids, maybe, but not organs. People keep trying to imply women are a *special* category of humans whereby our bodily organs are literally the property of the state, and I keep saying that that is only possible if women are considered non-human. Personhood of the host for the exclusive benefit of the trespasser is indeed the primary issue.

    Labor without appropriate compensation or consent is the very definition of slavery, btw ChH. Again, abortion is a terrible thing to contemplate, but so is the dehumanization and subsequent oppression of half the population. It’s easier for men to not notice the sexism because they don’t have to deal with it unless they want to, and then only up to the point where they are bored with the subject. Women must find some way to cope with it every day whether we want to or not, and I personally am sick to death of it. Which is why I’m so crabby. Deepest apologies.

  • http://feminazi.wordpress.com m Andrea

    Amphiox, you and I are on the same side here. I use the term “host” for the woman because even the term “woman” has become synonymous with “evolved or created for the express benefit of men”. Not that using another term helps all that much, but still.

    Oh! Does this site allow italics? Let’s try, I hate using all caps.

  • scribbler

    Funny! A field with hundreds of scare crows and no crows or corn.

  • ChH

    amphiox: “Does or does not the woman own her own uterus?”
    Yes, of course she owns it.
    “If she does, then she has the right to evict the fetus, any time she wants. She has the right to employ lethal force, any time she wants.”

    Try that with the rent house you own and let me know how it turns out.

    Incidentally, personal responsibility IS RELEVANT here as well – if your home is invaded, you may legally employ lethal force. But if you invite someone in and sign a lease contract, then want to boot them out before the lease ends, things are different. Also, to make the analogy less inaccurate, the person you invited to live in your house will immediately die if they don’t live there.

    “given that 95% of human conceptions end in spontaneous abortions, the potential time taken from the fetus is more likely to be zero.”
    We only start calling the child a fetus at the 11th week or so, at which point it’s got a 98% chance of living to be born unless someone kills it. Also, “potential” explicitly acknowledges that it’s not a sure thing. I chose my words carefully.

    “… I noted previously that in all the posts nattering about the personhood of the fetus, there was not a single mention of the woman.”
    You came along at June 28th 11:47 am. I had already considered rights to both life and freedom of the mother at 7:48 am.

    “… not a single mention of the man. … what should the state require of the man?”
    To physically support the children he was involved in creating. The state already does this.

    m Andrea: “the kidney argument (or however people usually refer to it) is the ONLY argument in support of abortion rights for which no actual rebuttal exists”
    Wow! arrogant…
    I presume you refer to “… does any entity have the legal right to force another into sacrificing a kidney? …”
    There are two major holes in this argument / analogy:
    First, if I caused you to be in the condition to need my kidney, that force may be justified.
    Second, if I caused you to be in need of a kidney, and only my kidney will allow you to live, and I can continue to live without that kidney after a period of recovery …

    m Andrea: “ChH, if you’re going to pick and choose which parts of the bible you’re going to accept and reject”
    What part have I rejected? Where in the Bible does it say, as you seem to think, that followers of God should not use medicine?

  • ChH

    m Andreas: ‘Amphiox Says: “We do allow and accept some limited forms of such state oppression when we feel that the consequences are worth it. ” Could you give me some examples please? Don’t mean to appear rude at all, but I can’t think of any.’

    I find it highly amusing that those of you who are entirely comfortable with government telling people what to do with their bodies in other contexts (no illicit drugs, no smoking, less salt, wear your seatbelt, wear your helmet, no medical treatment unless we approve it first, no hair cuts unless we approve the cutter, etc ad nauseum) suddenly get supposed limited-government principles when the uterus is involved. Of course, since the primary purpose of government is to protect the lives of its citizens, you missed the boat.

    Here’s an example of allowable state oppression: you’re upset that a woman might have to be a slave for nine months. But those of us who work end up paying over 40% of our income in taxes once they’re all considered. So adding up a standard 45 year career of 2000 hours per year, you end up working 4+ years (that’s 24/7/365) of your life just to pay for a government that could carry out its proper role for 1% of that. How’s that for involuntary slavery? (Well … I suppose you could just decide to not work & sponge off someone else …)

  • amphiox

    Try that with the rent house you own and let me know how it turns out.

    In this case the owner willingly and of free will entered into a contract with the tenant prior to the tenant entering the premises. The owner is then contractually bound to honor the agreement going into the future. If on the other hand the owner accidentally left the door unlocked, allowing a trespasser to enter and squat in the building, the owner has the right to evict.

    I find it highly amusing that those of you who are entirely comfortable with government telling people what to do with their bodies in other contexts (no illicit drugs, no smoking, less salt, wear your seatbelt, wear your helmet, no medical treatment unless we approve it first, no hair cuts unless we approve the cutter, etc ad nauseum) suddenly get supposed limited-government principles when the uterus is involved.

    And what prompts you to assume that I am in favor of these things?

    In none of these examples, none, is the violation of the individual anywhere near as egregious as that pertaining to forcing a woman to carry a pregnancy to term. You talk about “9 months” as if it were just some minor inconvenience. Do you have even the foggiest idea of what carrying a pregnancy entails?

    Pregnancy puts a woman at risk of heart failure, stroke, hemorrhage, pulmonary embolism, osteoporosis, and produces hormonal imbalances that increase the risk of future breast cancer, just to name a few. The drain on a woman’s metabolic resources is equivalent to carrying a large (not small) malignant tumor.

    We talk glibly about “only when the mother’s life is at risk”. Every single pregnancy puts a woman’s life at risk. Before modern medicine, childbirth was the number one cause of death for women, and the risk has only been reduced, not eliminated, by modern medicine.

    Now if it is a wanted pregnancy, that is fine – an adult woman chooses of her own free will to assume the risk, and medical science is at hand to try and minimize the risk as much as possible.

    But if the pregnancy is unwanted? Well, if the fetus is not a person, and just a lump of cells, then it is just an unfortunate bit of unfair biological reality. But if the fetus is a person, then this is assault, and the woman is entitled to self defense.

    And this is solely considering the biological aspects, without even mentioning the sociological consequences of treating women as objects – baby incubators that are the property of the state.

    You can justify a limitation of an individual’s rights, a violation of an individual’s autonomy, if the benefit you hope to achieve can be demonstrated to outweigh the harm. The harm accrued by enforcing a seatbelt law is small, the benefit large. This one’s a no-brainer. The salt issue is less clear. Each one must be considered independently of every other one.

    The harm accrued by forcing pregnancy is enormous. The benefit too is large, I’ll grant that. But it is not large enough.

  • scribbler

    I reread these and only have one thing to add to amphiox.

    Is it ever one human being’s right to murder an innocent human being?

    All your examples imply guilt. The unborn have no guilt, do they?

  • ChH

    There you have it, folks: feti are assaulting innocent women, and they must be stopped!

  • Mitz

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UX7goxsip6Y&feature=related
    This is quite an old video, but it shows the heart beat of the baby going from 140bpm to 200bpm when it’s been aborted, IS THAT NOT IT FEELING PAIN?????. It also shows the mouth opening. Is this the silent scream of a 12wk old fetus?? And moving violently trying to move away from the instrument. It may need to be done in exceptional circumstances i.e health reasons, a rape or girl gets pregnant too young, but why do some women wait until 24wks… 6mths of pregnancy to get rid of their baby??? that’s wrong. http://www.babycentre.co.uk/video/pregnancy/weeks-1-to-9-pregnancy/ Can anyone prove that the fetus NOT feel pain???? If a woman goes into labor at 25wks, doctors will do everything to save the babies life but then at 24wks it’s ok to abort, those 7days really make a difference??

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