A Fetus Cannot Feel Pain, but a Woman Denied the Right to Abortion Suffers Intolerable Pain

August 18, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


On June 18, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks. Rather than accurately titling the bill the “Enslave Women in Forced Childbirth Against Their Will Act,” the perpetrators of this law called it the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.” The act is not law—now—having passed only the House. But it is yet another step towards legitimizing and enforcing, forced motherhood. Right now, 41 states ban or restrict the right to abortion after a certain point in pregnancy and eight states already have laws on the books that ban abortions after 20 weeks.

Anti-abortion forces invoke lies to justify forcing women to have children against their will. Todd Akin, while in Congress, claimed victims of what he called “legitimate rape” rarely become pregnant. Of course that is completely untrue. Under President Bush, the U.S. government altered the National Cancer Institute website to suggest that abortion might cause breast cancer, when all credible medical bodies have concluded that this is not true. And, in another lie, sponsors of this bill claim, in the words of U.S. Representative Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) “the baby [sic] responds the same way you and I respond to pain, by recoiling.”

The article “What Is an Abortion and Why Women Must Have the Right to Choose: Life Cannot and Should Not Always Be Preserved,” (January 23, 2005), by A.S.K., goes deeply into why, scientifically speaking, a fetus is not a baby. Read it here.

The overwhelming body of the scientific literature finds that fetuses do not even begin to develop the brain connections that will be needed to feel pain at 20 weeks. But even after that point, fetuses do not respond to anything “the same way you and I” do. Pain—in any meaningful sense of the word—is not simply a reflexive nervous reaction. Pain involves sensory, cognitive, and emotional dimensions that are only associated with a conscious, living person, not a fetus.

You want to talk about real pain? A woman denied the right to abortion for any reason, who is forced to bring a pregnancy to term and bear a child against her will, endures intolerable pain—physical, psychological, emotional, and is forced into a form of slavery.

And at any stage of pregnancy, there is a basic moral question—a question of right and wrong—of whether the rights of a fetus will trump the rights of a woman. In the article “What Is an Abortion and Why Women Must Have the Right to Choose: Life Cannot and Should Not Always Be Preserved,” (January 23, 2005) A.S.K. writes:

“If a woman doesn’t want to continue a pregnancy all the way (for whatever reason), she should have the freedom to end it, safely and easily. This is for the greater good—for the health and overall well-being of that woman, whose life we should value and cherish more than that of a partially formed fetus. And for the greater good of humanity. After all, isn’t it in the greater interests of all of humanity that women not be slaves?

“The ‘right-to-life’ people don’t see it that way at all. They have made it crystal clear that to them the life of the fetus is more important and has more value than the life of the woman in whose uterus it is. From a social point of view, these people who want to forcibly take away a woman’s right to abortion are nothing but vicious, rabid dogs.”

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