When the study from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists delivered the message that a fetus feels no pain prior to 24 weeks gestation, the conclusion became a line in the sand which will effect abortion limitations on both sides of the argument. In places where abortion is illegal prior to 24 weeks based on the possibility of fetal pain (like Nebraska where the procedure is barred after 20 weeks), activists are now pushing to move the limit forward based on this new research. In places where abortion is illegal only after 24 weeks, the study comes as a blow to pro-life advocates pushing for restrictions.
The situation illuminates the problem with gestational timelines as a basis for abortion law. When did pain become the determining factor for whether or not a person or animal is deserving of life (I blame Peter Singer personally)? After all, there are adults who don’t feel pain…
Physicians ultimately diagnosed Julie, now 28 and living in Manchester, with a rare form of congenital insensitivity to pain.
She has no sensation of touch, temperature, deep pressure or vibrations in her limbs and parts of her chest and back.
She does have sensation in her head and portions of her trunk. Julie’s motor nerves work correctly. She can move her arms and legs and turn her head at will.
The disorder is caused by a gene mutation that disrupts the development of sensory nerve fibers – those that carry sensations such as touch, pain, temperature to the brain.