The U.S. House Of Representatives recently passed an act that would prohibit abortions from 20 weeks after fertilization, except in cases of rape, incest or when the life of a mother is endangered. A photograph in the womb at this stage of development is shown above.
The legislation states that its purpose is to protect “the lives of unborn children from the stage at which substantial medical evidence indicates that they are capable of feeling pain.” According to the bill’s authors, this occurs “by 20 weeks after fertilization, if not earlier.” Media outlets, however, are reporting otherwise. For example:
“The question of whether fetuses feel pain at 20 weeks is controversial. Abortion foes cite studies that show fetuses have stress responses and recoil from negative stimuli early in the womb, though most medical experts say the fetuses’ brains have not developed enough to register pain as it is typically understood.” ∼ Sandhya Somashekhar, social change reporter for the Washington Post
“The bill … claims that ‘an unborn child is capable of experiencing pain at least by 20 weeks after fertilization,’ though medical evidence does not support this.” ∼ New York Times editorial board
“We reviewed the literature and spoke with several experts, and we conclude … that definitive claims regarding pain perception at 20 weeks are unfounded.” ∼ Dave Levitan of FactCheck.org
Just Facts has previously detailed facts from numerous medical journals and textbooks indicating that preborn humans can feel pain from 20 weeks after fertilization or before. While this conclusion does not rise to the level of 100 percent certainty, it rests upon factually solid ground. To summarize the evidence:
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