Medical consensus has believed that unborn babies do not feel pain until the middle or end of the second trimester, 20 to 24 weeks. But newly published medical research indicates that unborn babies can feel pain much sooner.
The new research indicates that unborn babies can feel "something like pain" as early as 13 weeks, pro-choice British pain expert Stuart Derbyshire — who has previously consulted Planned Parenthood — and American Dr. John Bockmann told the Daily Mail.
The new evidence is so telling, in fact, that Derbyshire and Bockmann say ignoring the evidence "flirts with a moral recklessness that we are motivated to avoid."
The strong statement comes despite a 2006 declaration by Derbyshire in the British Medical Journal that not informing women seeking abortions about the potential pain their unborn child will experience is "sound policy based on good evidence that fetuses cannot experience pain."
Previously, medical experts thought younger unborn babies could not feel pain because the cerebral cortex, which controls sensory information and the nervous system, is not sufficiently developed until about 24 weeks.
However, one recently medical study discovered that an adult with an "extensively damaged" cerebral cortex could still feel pain, according to the Daily Mail.
"Given the evidence that the fetus might be able to experience something like pain during later abortions, it seems reasonable that the clinical team and the pregnant woman are encouraged to consider fetal analgesia [pain relief]," the doctors said.
The implications of the new research are significant because abortion limits are often built on the belief that unborn babies do not feel pain until 24 weeks. If the findings are confirmed — that unborn babies feel pain as early as the beginning of the second trimester — new abortion regulations to protect unborn life could be implemented around the world.