Church dismisses report that the human foetus cannot feel pain

THE Church in Scotland has dismissed a government report that claims the human foetus cannot feel pain before 24 weeks.

Doctors from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RCOG), led by Professor Allan Templeton of Aberdeen University, said that nerve connections in the brain are not sufficiently formed to allow pain perception until after the current 24-week limit for terminations.

However a spokesman for the Church in Scotland said this focus on pain levels sidelined the wider argument.

“In this debate the question of pain levels are a secondary issue” Peter Kearney, director of the Scottish Catholic Media Office, said. “Amnesty International do not campaign against the death penalty based on the levels of pain and sedation faced by the condemned but on the principle that the state sanctioned killing of another human being is barbaric and unjustifiable. The idea of justifying the killing of another by citing, as a legal defence, that the victim was under a general anaesthetic or even asleep would rightly be seen as ludicrous.

“The same applies for protecting the pre-born human being—human rights for all, not pain levels and sedation, is the issue.”

Abortion is currently legal in the UK up until the 24th week of pregnancy but pro-life campaigners have long claimed that medical advances in the treatment of premature babies mean the time limit should be reduced.

Professor Allan Templeton, president of the RCOG, and chief author of the report, said he  believed his research showed no change was required. “There’s nothing in the report that suggests any need to review the upper limit,” he said.

However Professor Sunny Anand, one of the world’s leading experts in fetal pain, has previously shown that it is a mistake to assume that pain perception in unborn babies requires the same structures as in adults.

His research demonstrated that the neural mechanisms used for pain processing in fetal life are different from those of fully-developed babies or adults and that they exist at 20 weeks of gestation and possibly earlier.

The report has alarmed pro-lifers who dismissed accusations that the report undermined   arguments for a lower abortion limit.

Paul Tully, General Secretary of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) rebutted the report.

“The RCOG knows better than most people how marvelous, sensitive, complex and beautiful these babies are at every stage of development from conception onwards,” he said.

“Life does not start halfway through a pregnancy, it starts at conception.”


One Response to “Church dismisses report that the human foetus cannot feel pain”

  1. Jack Regan Says:

    While I think that we need to get better at how we communicate the value of life, I think that assertions like this do need strongly challenging, and the Church is right to do so.

    Anyone who doubts the effects of abortion and the awareness and pain felt by the baby should watch the Silent Scream (it’s on YouTube)

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