Fetal Pain

Historically, the discussion of fetal pain shifts public opinion against abortion (sometimes by quite a large margin, depending on the poll). Many Americans know abortion is wrong at all stages of development, but the fact that a baby being aborted may be subjected to extreme violence and have the capacity to feel the pain gives even staunch abortion supporters pause. 

The range that researchers posit a growing baby begins to be capable of feeling pain is gigantic. Those supportive of abortion, such as ACOG, push the limit as far as possible and propose that fetal pain isn't a factor until 24 weeks (which is convenient, as that's also their chosen point of viability - a PR battle they know they won't win for long). Other studies show fetal pain as a possibility as early as 12 weeks. 

fetal pain

Fetal Pain Facts

  • Pain receptors are present throughout the fetus’ entire body by no later than 16 weeks after fertilization, and nerves link these receptors to the brain’s thalamus and subcortical plate by no later than 20 weeks.
  • Scientifically proven that by 20 weeks, babies react to painful stimuli by jerking, recoiling, and flinching.
  • Scientifically proven that by 20 weeks, fetuses that are exposed to painful stimuli during surgery have an increase in stress hormones if anesthesia is not applied.

Facts taken from www.doctorsonfetalpain.com.

Does Fetal Pain Matter? 

Like all other scientific truth, fetal pain is an important part of the abortion dialogue. But it's also important to remember that a baby's ability to feel pain is not what makes abortion wrong. Any human's capacity for pain is not what dictates our value. Abortions committed beyond the point of fetal pain are simply taking a wrong act and making it even worse. All abortions are wrong because they involve the intentional killing of a human being, and that is true at all stages of development. 

Students for Life of America has displays that educate students on the topic of fetal pain. Email your SFLA Regional Coordinator at [yourstate]@studentsforlife.org to request a Fetal Pain Display. This display has been created as both a tabletop and a larger banner display. Talk to your Regional Coordinator about which may be available for your group!