September 17, 2013

Fetal pain issue overblown by pro-life side?

A new story in the New York Times says it likely is indeed.

(The Journal of the American Medical Association expressly says it is highly unlikely fetuses do not feel pain before 24 weeks.)

On the pro-choice vs. pro-life issue, I'm probably somewhere in the great American muddled middle. That includes accepting that the state has a compelling interest, using that phrase in its full legal meaning, at protecting human life, and that, by the third trimester, such a judgment can be made. But, as part of that, not just on the compelling interest issue but reproductive issues in general, I advocate turning to sound science.

And, it appears ardent pro-lifers don't. It seems that fetal pain is definitely not an issue at 20 weeks, and apparently not at 24 weeks, either. It's only in what is, per Roe v. Wade, the third trimester, when a tiny fraction of abortions are performed, that it is an issue. But, per the link, that doesn't stop fetal pain from being the latest "hand-waver" for ardent pro-lifers. (That is, unless it undercuts their position; see below.)

But, the biggest issue of exploitative use isn't even that. It's selectively deliberate non-use of science, along with invention of pseudoscience, per the last two grafs of the story:
Some scientists say if fetuses feel pain, childbirth would seem to be particularly painful. Yet fetal-pain law supporters do not advocate fetal anesthesia or painkillers then. (Mary Spaulding Balch, the National Right to Life Committee’s state policy director) said she believes “there is something that is produced that prevents pain” for babies being born. 

Scientists say that is not so. “There are ways in which the pain of being born may help the fetus by producing activation in the pathways of the brain,” (Dr. Kanwaljeet Anand, a professor of pediatrics, anesthesiology and neurobiology at the University of Tennessee) said. 

Would that be the late 19th century pre-Einsteinian ether?

Maybe, for two snarks to make a right, it's endocannabinoids, and a baby suffering a painful birth is at danger of becoming a pothead?

Also, said people ignore other realities.

Abortion, like homosexuality, is found in the animal world. That in turn ties back to about one-quarter of human pregnancies ending in spontaneous abortion. For conservative Christians, the omnipotent god isn't, or else his anger over original sin really is tremendously out of proportion to the "crime." And, induced abortion has been around at least 3,500 years, without explicit mention in either Christian testament.

I don't like blogging too much about abortion. It's not the central political issue for me, although it's not totally unimportant, either. I also know that some friends who read and tolerate otherwise what I say here, even if disagreeing with a fair amount of it, find abortion to be a bright-line issue.

But, I have done so before. And this needs to be said.

So too does the other reality-based issue. If you're that against abortion, then stop fighting birth control, and stop promoting abstinence-only sex education.

And, as part of that reality, admit that unmarried people got preggers in the past, too. I've read that as many as one-third of brides in Victorian Scotland were pregnant on their wedding day. There were surely yet other women who didn't count in that figure because they either had illicit abortions or didn't get married, meaning half of women in Victorian Scotland had their first pregnancy start outside of marriage.


At the same time, "follow the science" cuts both ways. I simply disagree with people who say there's no reason to restrict third-trimester abortion, for example.

And, I find P.Z. Myers' support, via sociological "reasoning," for legalizing early-childhood infanticide, whether actual support or just theoretical, whether straight-up or tongue in cheek, to be appalling. (And, yes, he's made comments like that before.)

And, one can be pro-choice yet bluntly honest about what's happening. I present Ted Rall.

1 comment:

hedera said...

Not to mention the fact that not every child of a Victorian wife was the offspring of her husband. In some circles once one had produced the requisite "heir and a spare," the lady was allowed - discreetly - to mess around.