[by Dean Smith] In her article, The First Ache, published in the New York Times in 2008, Annie Paul reveals how doctors have discovered preemie babies as young as 20 weeks and possibly earlier experience pain in the womb.
In 1983, Kanwaljeet Anand was working for a neonatal intensive care unit at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, England.
Part of his job involved caring for premature infants who had just gone through surgery. He noticed when these babies returned from their operations, they had weak pulses, grey skin, shallow breathing and it took hours to get their vital signs stabilized.
It was obvious to Anand, the premature infants were suffering stress. Unsure why, he received permission to follow a baby through an operation to gain a better understanding on what was happening.
When he entered the operating room he was stunned to find out that in preparation for surgery all the surgical team did was provide a paralytic for the preemie to keep the infant still and no anesthesia was used for pain. These babies were operated on without any thought of the pain they would suffer when cut open for often extensive surgeries.
Then through a series of clinical trials, Anand discovered that when doctors used no (or minimal) anesthesia in operations, premature babies were under stress marked by significant spikes in stress hormones — cortisol and adrenaline.
Further, when surgeons used anesthesia on preemies during heart operations (before and after) their mortality rate halved — dropping from 25% when they didn’t use pain killers to below 10% when they did. He found better survival rates for all operations when surgeons used anesthesia.
As medicine advanced, babies were coming in younger to Anand’s ward — some just 22 weeks old. He noticed even these would grimace when he pricked them with a needle.
Along with this, complicated operations were also being performed on babies while still in the womb — the first operation of this nature was done in 1981.
Anand who now works at the University of Arkansas Children’s hospital is convinced babies feel pain as young as five months old (possible earlier) — just over half way through their pregnancy term.
Meanwhile, Dr Nicholas Fisk who works at Australia’s University of Queensland Center for Clinical Research has come to the same conclusion. He believes that preemies as young as 18 weeks feel pain. When performing procedures on babies in the womb he similarly noticed spikes in cortisol. He also saw blood being transferred to the baby’s brain, a normal pattern as the body protects vital organs when under stress.
As part of his research, Fisk studied 45 babies in the womb undergoing painful blood transfusions. A third of the babies received anesthesia before the procedure. He found that the stress hormone levels for babies who didn’t receive a pain-killer were double those that did.
Of course, abortion activists are deeply disturbed by these findings. They want everyone to believe that babies forming in the mother’s womb are simply a mass of cells called fetuses. Others still question the level of pain a premature baby actually experiences, despite evidence to the contrary.
When you understand some abortion procedures basically rip a baby to pieces and others use painful saline solutions that both poison and burn the baby and can take up to 24 hours to kill, you have to ask yourself what type of pain do these babies experience during abortions? Some babies being aborted can be up to seven pounds in size.
Considering that all organs are functioning within two months (56 days), the skeleton is fully formed within 42 days, and that brain waves are being recorded within a month and a half (43 days), babies in the womb are not fetuses but small humans.
On its website Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) has a quote from Dr. Paul Ranalli a neurologist at the University of Toronto. He says:
“At 20 weeks, the fetal brain has the full complement of brain cells present in adulthood, ready and waiting to receive pain signals from the body, and their electrical activity can be recorded by standard electroencephalography (EEG).
Of course, there are those who will still deny aborted babies feel pain and will undoubtedly continue do so, even as doctors doing lifesaving procedures on babies in the womb use anesthesia.
In response to these finding, MCCL successfully pressed the state of Minnesota to pass two laws protecting babies in the womb. The first law legislated in 2003 requires abortionists to tell patients that babies feel pain as young as 20 weeks.
Then in 2005, Minnesota passed the Unborn Child Pain Protection Act that requires doctors and abortionists to offer pain killing medication for babies being aborted. Mothers must sign a consent form refusing or accepting anesthesia. Other states have also passed similar legislation.