Tarry for the Nonce

April 5, 2006

A Silent Scream

Filed under: News — lmwalker @ 2:17 pm

The British have revealed the (I guess) astonishing information that premature babies feel pain:

Lead researcher Professor Maria Fitzgerald said: “We have shown for the first time that the information about pain reaches the brain in premature babies.”

Of course, that sorta brings another simpering assurance from PP into question, doesn’t it? Presumably, there isn’t something miraculous in the birthing process that magically activates the pain receptors of the brain. Premature babies in the womb probably feel pain too.

Interesting that the BBC fails to mention the implications.



  1. From the BBC article:

    The scientists registered the brain activity in the babies – aged between 25 and 45 weeks from conception – before, during and after nurses performed blood tests using a heel lance. (bolding added)

    From the Planned Parenthood site:

    We know for sure that the embryo or fetus cannot perceive pain in the nearly 99 percent of all abortions that occur before the 20th week of pregnancy. It is even possible that a fetus is unable to perceive pain at any time during pregnancy. If, however, the ability to feel pain does develop before birth and consciousness, it is likely to happen only after the 28th week of pregnancy, when abortion is performed only for urgent medical reasons.
    (bolding added)

    PP is not exactly making “assurances” that are in conflict with the study reported in the BBC, but the new research does suggest that some editing is in order, i.e. (1) take out the “it is even possible sentence” and (2) change the “after the 28th week” reference to whatever number is indicated by the research, if any.

    Comment by Troy — April 6, 2006 @ 9:30 am

  2. I would have also emphasized the following:

    “We know for sure that the embryo or fetus cannot perceive pain in the nearly 99 percent of all abortions that occur before the 20th week of pregnancy.”

    How can they know that “for sure” when medical science is still sketchy on the fact?

    Comment by laura — April 6, 2006 @ 9:52 am

  3. Yes, that may be. But, the journal article you just linked does indicate limited nervous system development prior to 20 weeks, so maybe the meaning of “perceive pain” is the lynchpin.

    Comment by Troy — April 6, 2006 @ 3:59 pm

  4. I hear rats can feel pain, too…

    Comment by (anon) — April 6, 2006 @ 4:47 pm

  5. The issue of pain is important because we are talking about a human organism. It cannot be denied that other creatures also experience pain; but given that they are not human, the same value is not placed upon it. I recall a mouse caught in a trap. The spring had cut him in half and the poor thing cried in agony. I killed him and tried to console myself that it was just a filthy rodent. Nevertheless, many years have gone by and it still bothers me. Back on the farm, specialties were blood sausage and blood pudding. They were made by hanging a pig alive, slitting his throat, and allowing him to bleed to death. Maybe I am becoming too soft as I enter middle-age, but that seems wrong. More Catholic ethicists are arguing that proper stewardship of animals means trying to preserve them from as much pain and distress as possible; even if we are forced by the nature of things to eat them. Vegetarians make a good case in this regard as to the inhumane treatment of chickens, pigs, and cattle. Although I would stop short of a prohibition against their slaughter. Searing off the beaks of birds, scoulding pigs alive in boiling water, and slashing instead of shooting cattle seems unnecesarily cruel.

    Of course, we can go too far. Robert Redford used mechanical fish in one of his movies because certain groups objected to the hooks used to catch real fish. Some scientists claim that fish do not feel pain, and I hope this is the case, because I see little recourse in their case.

    Notice though, that increasing concern can be given, even to the pain we cause animals, but still the barbaric and painful assault of the unborn goes unabated.

    British doctors have now suggested giving the fetus (unborn baby) some sort of anesthesia for pain caused by abortion. Is this the beginning of a recognition of the child’s humanity or just the respect they would give animal life in general?

    Comment by Father Joe — April 6, 2006 @ 10:46 pm

  6. PP really seem to be faltering more and more.

    Comment by Alistair A. — April 7, 2006 @ 11:11 am

  7. PP seems to be faltering more and more.

    Comment by Alistair A. — April 7, 2006 @ 11:12 am

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