He blinded me with science

News & Politics

Several of us "blogged for choice" on Sunday, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. A commenter on a recent post, who I have no doubt is sincere in his or her beliefs, wrote this (and left a similar comment on another post):

My opposition [to abortion] has nothing to do with law, it has to do with the often-protracted suffering of those being aborted. Some procedures, such as saline poisoning, cause the baby to suffer for hours as he is being burned to death by the solution… it may take the baby many hours of intense suffering before he dies.
Not surprisingly, there's a blizzard of misinformation out there on the subject of "fetal pain." On this site, belonging to a "crisis pregnancy center," they say an eight-week old fetus is a "tiny human [who is] perfectly developed, with long, tapering fingers, feet and toes."

This site, by an anti-choice group, backs up its assertion that at eight weeks a fetus has the capacity to experience pain with some pretty convincing sounding science:
By this age the neuro-anatomic structures are present. What is needed is (1) a sensory nerve to feel the pain and send a message to (2) the thalamus, a part of the base of the brain, and (3) motor nerves that send a message to that area. These are present at 8 weeks. The pain impulse goes to the thalamus. It sends a signal down the motor nerves to pull away from the hurt.
They offer as further evidence, under the heading "Give me more proof," this: "In 1984 President Reagan said: "When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing," followed by a letter supporting Reagan from "an auspicious group of professors."

After perusing the abortion sites, pro and con, I figured I'd shine some serious scientific light on the subject. The short version is: this is all disinformation according to the best available science.

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