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Showing posts from March, 2014

Do Fetuses Experience Pain?

by Gillian Parker, Tamalpais HS
Controversy over abortion laws has led to many other discussions surrounding the development of the fetus. When does a fetus begin to feel pain? When does it gain consciousness? What are its cognitive abilities in the womb? This essay will attempt to answer these questions. It is still unclear when human babies/fetuses begin to feel pain. The first step to feeling pain is to develop the necessary neuroanatomy. Evidence suggests that the necessary anatomical developments are in place at as early as 26 weeks gestation. When a fetus of approximately 26 weeks is exposed to noxious stimuli, it will respond to them, although minimally (Derbyshire, 2006). There are studies which claim to record evidence of fetal expressions of pain and/or distress. In one particular study, 8 female and 7 male fetuses were scanned with a 4-D ultrasound four times during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, or 24 to 36 weeks gestation. The study specifically focused on ex…

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