From the Washington Post: Article by Lindsey Tanner
Doctors should not be required to discuss fetal pain with women seeking abortions because fetuses likely can't feel pain until late in pregnancy, according to a review critics say hardly settles the contentious topic. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco reviewed dozens of studies and medical reports and said the data indicate that fetuses likely are incapable of feeling pain until around the seventh month of pregnancy, when they are about 28 weeks old. Based on the evidence, discussions of fetal pain for abortions performed before the end of the second trimester should not be mandatory, according to the study appearing in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Assoc.
The review, researchers say, is an attempt to present a comprehensive, objective report on evidence to inform the debate over fetal pain laws aimed at making women think twice before getting abortions.
Critics angrily disputed the findings and claimed the report is biased.
"They have literally stuck their hands into a hornet's nest," said Dr. Kanwaljeet Anand, a fetal pain researcher at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, who believes fetuses as young as 20 weeks old feel pain. "This is going to inflame a lot of scientists who are very, very concerned and are far more knowledgeable in this area than the authors appear to be. This is not the last word definitely not."
Proposed federal legislation would require doctors to provide fetal pain information to women seeking abortions when fetuses are at least 20 weeks old, and to offer women fetal anesthesia at that stage of the pregnancy. A handful of states have enacted similar measures.
The review says medical evidence shows that brain structures involved in feeling pain begin forming earlier but likely do not function until around the seventh month, when fetuses are about 28 weeks old.
Some scientists say younger fetuses show pain by moving away from a stimulus, but that likely is a reflex action and not an indication that they are actually feeling pain, said UCSF obstetric anesthesiologist Dr. Mark Rosen, the study's senior author.
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What an outrage.