Fetal Pain Opens Eyes to Preborn Humanity
Jim Daly Jim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.
- 2013 Sep 26
Recently, a colleague shared an encouraging article with me from Utah’s Deseret News. Titled “Small survivors: How the disputed science of fetal pain is reshaping abortion law,” the piece does an excellent job of highlighting the humanity of preborn babies.
The article tells the story of twin toddlers, Caleb and Julian, who had been born at 26 weeks and 5 days gestation. Their birth age is noticeably earlier than the 28 weeks milestone the Supreme Court had originally set as the point of “viability” back in 1972. Incidentally, the Court changed the date of viability to 24 weeks in 1992 to keep up with what advancing technology and medicine were doing to save preborn babies.
The author points out that just a generation ago, doctors and scientists didn’t think developing babies could perceive pain. As a result, even newborns routinely underwent operations without the benefit of anesthesia.
But thanks to advances in technology, including both two-dimension and four-dimension ultrasounds, and advanced medical understanding on topics like fetal pain, the medical profession is increasingly seeing a developing baby for what she or he is – a real person, not simply a blob of tissue and cells.
Nevertheless, as the title of the article indicated, there are still doctors and scientists who disagree about the timing of when a preborn baby begins to feel pain. Of course, if you ask me, that whole issue is irrelevant. It’s a human life! But if the fetal pain strategy is proving effective, as it is, for the sake of advancing pro-life legislation, then we’re wise to pursue it as a tactic.
But what was particularly uplifting in the piece was a quote from Maureen Condic, a neurobiologist at the University of Utah Medical School. Speaking to the issue of the ongoing dispute over the timing of fetal pain, Dr. Condic said, "This is not so much a medical ambiguity, as it is an opportunity for us to consider what kind of society we want to be. And I think there is sufficient uncertainty to warrant giving the fetus the benefit of the doubt."
She gets it.
In fact, her comment reminds me of the question I have posed to those within the pro-abortion movement:
Isn’t life the better choice?
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