Fr. John J. Pasquini, Th.D.
In a world that seeks to mitigate any form of pain in animals, the pain in preborn humans does not seem to be much of a concern for people. Why?
We have laws in America to protect animals from unnecessary pain or even discomfort. Painless means of euthanizing dogs and cats is required by law. In California animals to be slaughtered for market must be made unconscious prior to slaughtering. Even laboratory animals are experimented upon with the aim of causing the least pain necessary. Many states have protected species of animals by imposing penalties for disturbing the environment of a species or killing a species that is protected.
Why are the preborn without such rights? The preborn are dismembered, ripped apart, burned, salt poisoned, dehydrated, hemorrhaged, chemically pealed, forced into convulsions, and placed into forced cardiac arrests.
One of the premiere authorities on pain, the professor of anesthesiology at Northwestern University and the University of Illinois Medical Center argues that fetal pain begins as early as eight weeks—at the thirteenth weeks at the latest.
Biologists have known since the 1960’s that preborn children feel pain by week fourteen. The cerebral cortex is sufficiently complete for the child’s pain transmitters and receptors to be functioning. Let examine the development of the preborn child:
- By week eight or day fifty-six preborn children use their nervous system to move within the uterus in order to make himself or herself comfortable within the womb. By the seventh week lip tactile response is identified.
- By week nine or day sixty preborn children have spinal reflexes and tactile-touching stimulation response effects. By ten and a half weeks the palms of the hands are responsive to slight touch.
- By week eleven or day seventy-seven the preborn child is responsive to the sweetness of the amniotic fluid within the womb, as indicated by the amount of swallowing the preborn child engages in. The palms, footpads, and genitals become sensitive to touch. Eyelids squint. The face and upper and lower extremities of the child’s body are sensitive to touch.
- By week fourteen or day 100 the general sense organs respond to pain, pointed pressure, temperature, chemicals, pointed pressure, and light. By week fourteen the entire body surface, except for the back and top of the head, feel pain.
Science is clear. Politics often seeks to obscure the truth. In a response to attacks on President Ronald Reagan’s address on fetal pain to the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in 1984, twenty-six scientists, including two past presidents of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology wrote the following defense of President Reagan:
“Over the last 18 years, real time ultrasonography, fetoscopy, study of the fetal EKG and EEG have demonstrated the remarkable responsiveness of the human fetus to pain, touch and sound…. The ability to feel pain and respond to it is clearly not a phenomenon that develops de facto at birth. Indeed, much of enlightened modern obstetrical practice and procedure seeks to minimize sensory deprivation of and sensory insult to the fetus during, at, and after birth” (Lowes, 176).
The abortionist John Szenes agrees with the consensus of scientists. As he explains from his own experience:
“[During a salting-out abortion]…one notices that at the time of the saline infusion there [is] a lot of activity in the uterus. That’s not fluid currents. That’s obviously the fetus being distressed by swallowing the concentrated salt solution and kicking violently and that’s, to all intents and purposes, the death trauma” (Magda Denes. “Performing Abortions.” Commentary, October 1976, 33-37).
Magda Denes describes one of her abortions in the following manner:
“I look inside the bucket in front of me. There is a small naked person in there floating in bloody liquid—plainly the tragic victim of a drowning accident. But then perhaps this was no accident, because the body is purple with bruises and the face has the agonized tautness of one forced to die too soon. I have seen this face before, on a Russian soldier lying on a frozen snow-covered hill, stiff with death and cold…” (Ibid.).
Notes and Further Reading
Brian Lowes, Facts of Life, Front Royal: HLI, 2001, 174-177; Sue Brattle. “Can a Fetus Feel Pain?” London: Daily Express, 1996, 25-6; Geoffrey Dawes. Fetal and Neonatal Physiology. Chicago. Yearbook Medical Publishers, 1968, 126; William Liley. “Experiments with Uterine and Fetal Experimentation.” Australia and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 6:99, 1972; John T. Noonan, Jr. “The Experience of Pain By the Unborn.” Human Life Review. Fall 1981, 7-19 and Spring 1984, 105-115.