A recent article in the Weekend Australian (26-27 June 2010) reports on an extraordinary ‘claim ‘ by Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists that a fetus feels no pain prior to twenty-four weeks old. How can they possibly believe what they report when there are ultra-sound images on record (just look on the internet) of fetal thumb-sucking at the age of about 14 weeks. It is also reported (again see the internet) that a fetus can hear from around 23 weeks. This means it HAS senses – if it can hear, if it can feel its thumb then surely, in spite of what the ‘experts’ say a baby has senses and it can feel things like pleasure and pain. I copied and pasted a section of an article by Dr JC Becher, Specialist Registrar in Neonatology, Department of Neonatology, Simpson Centre for Reproductive Health, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, which is of interest -
• Ultrasound provides remarkable pictures of the fetus allowing the study of early development as well as diagnosis of congenital abnormalities.
• Fetal movement begins about 7.5 weeks after conception and by 14 weeks flexion, extension, rotation, thumb sucking and yawning occur.
• Even when seemingly purposeful, early movements are due to reflexes occurring at spinal cord level.
• Purposive movement depends on brain maturation. This begins at about 18 weeks and progressively replaces reflex movements, which disappear by about 8 months after birth. Persistence of reflex activity is common when brain damage has occurred.
• The fetus can hear from around 23 weeks, and shows response to maternal speech. Fetal learning has been shown in response to sound.
• Most cerebral palsy is due to brain injury acquired in the womb. Ultrasound study of fetal behaviour may identify such abnormal neurological development before birth.
Sensory development in the fetus has been studied mostly in response to sound, and hearing can be shown as early as 23 weeks’ gestation. Fetuses respond with a slowing of the heart rate during maternal speech. There is evidence to suggest that fetuses can differentiate between different speech sounds and show preference for the maternal native language. It may be that experience of speech prenatally begins the process of acquiring language postnatally.”
It was not that many years ago the male babies were circumcised without anaesthetics because ‘experts’ said that babies did not feel pain. How wrong they were. Common sense has prevailed and this barbaric practice has ceased – at least in Australia. Any parent can tell an ‘expert’ that babies feel pain, feel discomfort and feel hunger. Aren’t these sensory perceptions? Isn’t that what feeling are?
Experts – Ha!! They cause more trouble than they are worth.