Foetal pain is not an election issue. Here’s why it should be.

Photo shows a 3D scan of a foetus at 27 weeks

No-one likes to think of a child in pain. It’s why we turn away from it, sometimes even to the point of refusing to acknowledge it. 

But new evidence shows that many children killed by abortion feel pain, and the scientists who’ve shone a spotlight on this have also forced us to examine something else about ourselves.

If we know the aborted child feels pain, and we allow it to happen anyway, what does that say about us a people, as a society? The question is almost too terrifying to ask.

Choosing to believe that preborn babies can’t feel pain must have been a key factor for many people who decided to vote Yes to legalising abortion in 2018. Either that or we’re a nation of psychopaths.

So millions of people accepted the argument that said the child who is dismembered isn’t sentient, isn’t capable of experiencing what would otherwise be a horrific, unimaginable agony.

What are they to think now, when it has been shown that foetal pain is real and is experienced – when the evidence has become so impossible to ignore that even a former consultant to abortion chain, Planned Parenthood,  says it is now clear that the consensus is no longer tenable”.

As Gript reported:

In a new scientific paper [published in the British Medical Journal]  entitled “Reconsidering Fetal Pain” the scientists write that studies indicate unborn babies might be able to feel ‘something like pain’ as early as 13 weeks, but especially after 18 weeks “when there is good evidence for a functional connection from the periphery and into the brain.”

The previous consensus of sorts which stated that pain was only possible after 24 weeks relied on observations regarding the development of the cortex – the brain layer that processes sensory information – in the foetal brain. However, the paper notes, recent studies, including one which showed an adult with an severely damaged cortex could still feel pain, indicated that consensus was now upended.

The paper revealed that: “after 12 weeks gestation, the preborn baby has developed a subplate – a temporary structure which carries connections from the thalamus – and that it is believed that this may be a means of experiencing pain as the baby develops.”

To carry on with late-term abortion without pain relief regardless of the new evidence ‘flirts with moral recklessness’, the medics argue.

So the baby might feel pain at 13 weeks, but after 18 weeks its far more likely. To carry out an abortion at that stage without pain relief should therefore be unconscionable.

In Ireland, a baby with a severe disability can be aborted right up to birth. There are no time limits for abortion on these grounds as set out in Section 11 of the 2018 Act.

Maybe the likely pain of a late-term dismemberment abortion is too much for the human brain to contemplate. There’s always the more benign-sounding practise of  ‘induced foetal demise’
At the time our abortion regime was being legislated for, medical researcher Ruth Foley drew my attention a paper published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology looking at the use of potassium chloride to ensure ‘foetal demise’ in late-term abortions.

(The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) recommends that “feticide should be performed before medical abortion after 21 weeks and 6 days of gestation to ensure that there is no risk of a live birth.)

At one point the study explains : ‘Potassium chloride injected directly into the left ventricle induces immediate asystole’ (that is, the baby’s heart stopped beating). At another point it goes into more detail: ‘A decision whether or not to inject a further volume of potassium chloride was taken after 1 minute if asystole had not occurred. The volume administered depended on the foetal heart rate, but in general, a further 1–2 ml was injected if the heart rate was above 100/minute.’ ”

Ms Foley observed that, in the USA, potassium chloride is considered so painful that both the American Veterinary Medical Association, and the authorities in charge of USA executions, consider it necessary to give anaesthetic first to avoid being inhumane to the animal or the criminal being put to death.

In fact, receiving a lethal injection of potassium chloride into the heart can cause such pain and suffering that when adults being legally executed both an anesthetic and a paralytic are administered prior to the lethal injection, according to a recent article  in the Washington Post. (The author, an associate professor of anesthesia at Harvard Medical School, cautions that even these measures may only mask rather than prevent the “burning pain” of the administration of the poison.)

Yet unborn babies enduring late-term abortion receive no anesthetic, no paralytic, no pain relief. And not 15 months ago, more than 60 of our TDs voted against giving pain relief in late-term abortion.

It would make you weep for humanity.

Some of those TDs may claim they were ignorant of the scientific evidence which has been amassed by experts in this field. Others are blinded by ideology or by the fear of the political party whip. Some are wilfully closed to the suffering of the child in a way that is beyond my understanding.

Either way, the truth can no longer be ignored.

One of the paper’s authors was Prof Stuart Derbyshire who previously acted as a consultant to the Pro-Choice Forum in the UK and Planned Parenthood, a leading abortion provider. He now agrees that women undergoing abortion at later stage in pregnancy should be asked if they would like pain relief provided to the baby.

This disturbing new evidence has, as always, been ignored by the Irish media who would prefer to stay in the dark ages rather than acknowledge the humanity of the preborn child.

But truth has a way of finding the light.

Foetal pain might not be an election issue in 2020. But it should be, and in time to come, it will be. 


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