Small survivors: How the disputed science of fetal pain is reshaping abortion law

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  • JD Jones Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 10, 2013 12:00 p.m.

    Is anyone discussing the issue of stem cell research? Currently, many people believe that aborting a blastocyst is equivalent to murder of a young child, so many people therefore conclude that harvesting. Blastocysts have less cells than a number of cells in a fly's brain, yet most pro-lifers would rather ban aborting blastocysts than allow stem cell research to continue so children can receive life saving and life improving therapies. Does anyone actually believe a blastocycst can feel pain? The article never mentions abortions after a few days after conceptions. Why? Is it because it would force readers to come to a reasonable conclusion. Think about it folks. A blastocyst doesn't have the wiring to feel pain, nor it it aware of it's own existence. A blastocyst has up to 100 cells! Banning the aborting of blastocysts for scientific research purposes makes no sense, particularly when such research will lead to saving and improving many lives.

    If you are truly pro-life, you will support aborting blastocysts for research that will lead to saving and improving lives. It's that simple.

  • My2Cents Taylorsville, UT
    Sept. 9, 2013 6:01 a.m.

    Fetal pain is a hoax. If pain cells are developed in fetus then most births would be self aborting if there was any truth to this theory. Science is theoretical and is never an absolute. No science is mathematical or provable, its and act of faith of believing or not believing and neither is wrong or right. There is no proof a fetus can feel pain, love, hate, or have any senses until they are born and take the first breath of live. As in all things of birth, pain is learned as well, and recognition, feeling, emotions, and even eating is a learned process.

    Growth and development in the womb is a long term process of genes and DNA switching on and off before, during, and after birth. A fetus in the womb is not a person until birth and the breath of life after birth. Still born babies are not considered a person or even named or have death certificates issued.

    Sould end the controversy of a pregnant mother killed by a crime dissolves the assumption the fetus is a person.

  • Arizona Rocks Phoenix, AZ
    Sept. 8, 2013 4:52 a.m.

    I agree Hoosier 87 from American Fork, UT. Except in very rare cases, abortion is murder. The scripture is true about harming a child. A child begins at conception. Heavenly Father has told us that we were made in his image and likeness. Human life is precious to Him and therefore to me. These little babies are our future and we cannot deny them the right to life. An abortion is not the answer! Adoption is.

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    Sept. 6, 2013 4:49 p.m.

    Abortions deprive the wealthy of poor peoples children to fight in their wars for profit.

    Twin Lights said: "There has been no revelation on when the spirit enters the body. Ordinances are not performed for stillborn children. The terminated pregnancy would not typically count as a mortal life (as I understand things)."

    I think revelation has been given, if you understand what is being said.

  • DistantThunder Vincentown, NJ
    Sept. 5, 2013 3:20 p.m.

    The human rights of the fetus trump the parental rights of the mother, just like they do in child abuse cases.

  • Lightbearer Brigham City, UT
    Sept. 4, 2013 4:24 p.m.

    Re: "I think you misunderstand the context of the scripture quoted."

    "The Pulpit Commentary" on Ecclesiastes 4:

    "Thus we have Job's passionate appeal (Job iii.11), 'Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I came forth,' etc.? And in the Greek poets the sentiment of the text is re-echoed. Thus Theognis, 'Paroen.,' 425 -

    "'... 'Tis best for mortals never to be born,
    Nor ever see the swift sun's burning rays;
    Next best, when born, to pass the gates of death
    Right speedily, and rest beneath the earth.'

    (Comp. Soph., 'OEd. Col.,' 1225-1228.) ...

    "Herodotus ... relates how some of the Thracians had a custom of bemoaning a birth and rejoicing at a death. In our own Burial Service we thank God for delivering the departed 'out of the miseries of this sinful world.'"

    Clarke's Commentary:

    "... I considered those happy who had escaped from the pilgrimage of life to the place where the wicked cease from troubling, and where the weary are at rest.

    "... Better never to have been born into the world, than to have seen and suffered so many miseries."

  • andyjaggy American Fork, UT
    Sept. 4, 2013 2:40 p.m.

    I would suggest if you want to convert people to your side of the argument that you not compare a human fetus to an omelet and cooked peas, though that certainly speaks loads about how you really see things.

    I am very much against abortion, which is one of the reasons I am very much for providing free contraceptives to anyone who wants them. Study after study has shown that when women are provided free contraceptives abortion rates plummet. I will gladly pay a few extra dollars in taxes to drastically reduce the amount of abortions happening.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Sept. 4, 2013 10:22 a.m.


    I think you misunderstand the context of the scripture quoted.

    As to the fetus. There has been no revelation on when the spirit enters the body. Ordinances are not performed for stillborn children. The terminated pregnancy would not typically count as a mortal life (as I understand things).

    As to punishment - I am not interested in punishing the mother.

    As to fathers having a say. If they will be responsible for that life if brought to term, they surely should have some (significant) say about it now.

    As to the govt. having a say? The govt. has an interest in how I treat my dog, it should surely have an interest in how a fetus is treated.

  • Lightbearer Brigham City, UT
    Sept. 4, 2013 9:20 a.m.

    If a fetus feels pain, then surely a baby feels pain during the process of birth, which might last hours. Yet even that pain is insignificant next to the lifetime of pain, heartache, disappointment, sorrow, and suffering it would certainly experience if forced into this world of evil.

    As Ecclesiastes says, it is better not to be born: "So I considered those who are dead and gone more fortunate than those who are still alive. But better than both is the one who has not been born and has not seen the evil things that are done on earth."

    Whether a woman carries her pregnancy to term is not my business, or your business, or the government's business, or even the father's business. It is the woman's business, and she should be the one to decide.

    If the fetus has a soul, Mormon doctrine says it will inherit the Celestial Kingdom. Isn't that the ultimate goal?

    And if abortion is a sin, and you're afraid the woman might escape punishment, won't she be punished in the afterlife? Or are there those among you who feel that an eternity of punishment isn't punishment enough?

  • fowersjl Farmington, Utah
    Sept. 4, 2013 12:20 a.m.

    Will never forget a doctor taking a tissue sample from my preemie twin baby's intestine, with a knifelike instrument inserted in his tiny rectum, and the reaction of the baby...He opened his mouth wide in a terrible grimace, though no sound came forth. The doctor was shaken, and the fact that I protested loudly, not knowing in advance what he was doing, added to his distress, and he said, "I just learned an important lesson here, and I will never do something like that again without anesthesia." Intelligent men of science can be really amazingly stupid sometimes.

  • Tami Herriman, UT
    Sept. 3, 2013 9:52 p.m.

    At 20 weeks, I had to have amniocentesis done to remove excess fluid. During the procedure, as we watched on the monitor, my son accidentally stuck his foot out and got poked by the needle. He quickly went to the farthest point he could get away from that needle and stayed there curled up in a ball for the remainder of the time. There is no way on earth you can convince me that he did not feel the pain of getting poked by that needle and did not do everything he could to avoid repeating that pain.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Sept. 3, 2013 8:39 p.m.

    If you will remember the conversation about the billboard (not just what you wanted to get out of it), nobody said planning is bad. The discussion was about the billboard being patronizing and condescending to people with larger than average families (not that planning is bad).

    To the best of my knowledge Mormons have no problem with planning their families. Everybody I know of uses family planning (but not abortion). They may just disagree on what the "right" size is for a family.

    Again... Mormons are not against family planning. Some just plan to have larger families than you may plan on. It's NOT an accident.

  • snowman Provo, UT
    Sept. 3, 2013 6:56 p.m.

    RanchHand: An omlette is not a human being and unborn baby is. That child didn't have a choice in being created so why does it not have a choice in its life or death. That child deserves a chance at life. If a develping baby is made up of human cells it is a human being. It's not the babys fault that it was conceived so it should not have to pay the price for what the mother did or what was done to her.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 3, 2013 4:42 p.m.

    "Every omlette is an abortion."

    Those are unfertilized eggs, so it's closer to a period than an abortion.

    "IMO the thought process needs to start BEFORE you become pregnant (not AFTER)."

    And yet so many people ranted against that billboard urging family planning, and oppose groups like Planned Parenthood that are leading providers of birth control.

  • Just Wanted to Say Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 3, 2013 2:51 p.m.


    Babies start to form their ears around 8 weeks and are usually completely formed by 24 weeks / can start recognizing things at 25 weeks or so. In 1988, a study was published that showed babies were able to recognize the theme song melodies of the soap operas their mothers watched during pregnancy. There was a recently published study on Deseret News (Unborn babies recognize and remember words said to them in the womb, August 28, 2013) that said babies who listened to a CD of made-up words were able to recognize those words after birth.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Sept. 3, 2013 2:43 p.m.


    Because this is a potential human life (I leave to others to determine the exact point of "humanness") the issue is far more important (and SHOULD be far more important) than chicken eggs or ticks. The creation of life is not comparable to a parasite.

    Giving exception to the rape and incest issues, if a woman knowingly enters a relationship where pregnancy is a likely result and the pregnancy is, at least a potential human being, does she bear no responsibility for that potential life?

    I would wager (successfully I think) that if I were to breed my dog or cat and get rid of their litters with the abandon we abort human fetuses, the law would come for me. I would not be able to get out of it by saying I could not control them getting pregnant.

    I am not arguing that the fetus is always 100% human life at all stages, but it is certainly the potential therefor and we would do well to destroy that potential only after significant consideration and with lots of deference for that potential life.

  • LDSareChristians Anchorage, AK
    Sept. 3, 2013 2:35 p.m.

    About a month half to 2 months before my first child was born, my wife was sitting on the back of a moving van, when a bed board leaning on a wall slid sideways and fell to the floor with a load bang. My wife saw the board falling and wasn't surprised by the crash. But our child inside her couldn't see what was going on and when that board crashed with a bang, he very noticeably "leaped" in her womb.
    So at 7 to 7.5 months a baby can hear and react as well.
    I wonder if any studies have been done to detect the earliest time a baby can hear in the womb?

  • Y Grad / Y Dad Richland, WA
    Sept. 3, 2013 2:11 p.m.

    Albert Maslar CPA (Retired)
    Absecon, NJ

    Your logic is perfect.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    Sept. 3, 2013 1:55 p.m.

    Every omlette is an abortion. When you cook up peas, you're aborting the unborn seedling.

    It is the choice of the woman and nobody elses. There is no right for a fetus to parasitize a woman's body any more than a tick has the right to parasitize a woman's body.

  • RussellCrawford Round Rock, TX
    Sept. 3, 2013 1:26 p.m.

    Many pro lifers are so lost in their rhetoric that they cannot read the writing on the dying. The fact is that attempting to save a fetus leads to the death of a born baby. There are more people dying than can be saved. Read the faces of the dying, what do they say to you. They beg you to save their lives. You have a choice as a pro lifer. You may save the life of innocent born babies, children and adults, or you may let them die and instead save a fetus. Open your eyes, see your neighbors die. Now help them and focus on the living not on a fetus that cannot be proved to be alive or human.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Sept. 3, 2013 12:19 p.m.

    My thought process is... Whether they can feel pain or not... is it a good thing to do?

    I mean whether you can feel pain or not is the only criteria for when you can end a life... we could do away with people we don't want in society any time they are under anesthesia.

    I don't think it matters so much if they can feel pain or not.


    IMO the thought process needs to start BEFORE you become pregnant (not AFTER). We all know what the possible (and probable) outcome of sexual activity is.

    IF you don't want to start another life... then either don't have sex, or use precautions. But don't just HOPE you get lucky and if not... you can kill it.

    IMO once the new life starts (whether it can think, feel pain, talk, or whatever)... it becomes a two person decision at that point (not just the Mother's decision). There is another life involved... one that can't be actively involved in the discussion of their life/death, but one that's VERY involved in the outcome.

  • aunt lucy Looneyville, UT
    Sept. 3, 2013 12:12 p.m.

    It's clearly the women's choice. It's her body and it should be her choice! With that said, the choice is made before conception not after. Quit looking for immediate satisfaction with no consequences attached. That way of thinking is eroding away the very principles this country became great on. As for Rape, really, what percent of abortions are truly rape victims? Probably less than 1%, so don't throw rape out as a valid reason to kill the other 99% of aborted children.

  • Hoosier87 American Fork, UT
    Sept. 3, 2013 11:20 a.m.

    This almost seems inconceivable to me that they are actually arguing that a "fetus" can't feel pain. What has this world come to?

    Of course they can feel pain!

    This is of course nothing more than a justification for abortion.

    I personally think that nothing offends God more than abortion. Can you imagine anything more abominable to Him?

    If the scripture is true that those who harm a child, it would be better for them to have a millstone tied around their necks and cast into the sea, then what child could be more innocent and need of our protection than those still in the womb?

    I was born 44 years ago, just before Roe V. Wade - and I was an unwanted pregnancy. Thank God these people didn't have the freedoms they now have to abort babies back then...

  • MapleDon Springville, UT
    Sept. 3, 2013 11:00 a.m.

    This is another issue where traditional conservatives have taken a strong opinion. However, in the so-called conservative state of Utah, the people aren't quite as conservative.

    Whatever the cause for this interesting departure from other conservative states, perhaps the people of Utah ought to be reminded of what abortion is.

    Abortion is a procedure performed to terminate the life of a baby growing in its mother's womb. It isn't the prevention of the development of a zygote.

    I'm confident if the details of how abortions are performed were provided to the people of this state, they wouldn't support it. Further, they wouldn't consider Texas's law controversial (though Deseret News' reporters might).

  • Sophie 62 spring city, UT
    Sept. 3, 2013 10:51 a.m.

    When a woman becomes pregnant, if she wants that baby, to her it is a baby, no matter how small or undeveloped. It's a human baby. No matter whether others refer to it as a fetus, it will not be born anything but a human baby. No matter how much outward resemblance a tiny human fetus has to a cat or dolphin fetus, it will never be anything but human. Genetically, it's human, not dog or camel. Whether it is viable outside the womb does not change its essential humanity. Genetically, it is fully human. It has all the DNA of a human being, from the earliest stages.
    Whether a woman has the legal right to kill this small human does not change its essential humanity.
    If a woman, for whatever reason, decides to end the life she carries, she needs to understand precisely what it is she's doing.
    All the euphemisms in the world (terminating the pregnancy, for example) do not change what is really happening.

  • vangroovin West Jordan, UT
    Sept. 3, 2013 10:41 a.m.

    This whole discussion completely floors me. How much lower can the world, as a whole, get on ethical and moral issues?! We weren't created to kill each other off - we were created to create.

  • Owl Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 3, 2013 10:22 a.m.

    Does this imply that it would be ethical to kill a child or adult who does not feel pain?

  • Moabmom Moab, UT
    Sept. 3, 2013 10:00 a.m.

    It is chilling to me that we have so called scientists trying to find 'scientific' proof that is is okay to kill the unborn and trying to say that being 'human' rests on the conscious ability to feel pain.and it's all being done to sooth the public conscience and numb us to the reality that we are deliberately destroying the most innocent among us. It just proves how decadent,cold,immoral, uncaring, self centered and arrogant some in our culture have become. Whether or not the baby feels pain is not the issue. The issue is that from the moment of conception, it is a baby, a human baby. It is not a "fetus", it is not a glob of unorganized tissue, it is a baby and that baby is alive. Period. The pro abortion crowd never,ever want to talk about the DNA proof. They just want to keep the water surrounding the issue muddied with pointless hypothetical studies and 'social' issues. Abortion is the deliberate murder of a human baby no matter when on the timeline of development it is done. Period.

  • bullet56 Olympia, WA
    Sept. 3, 2013 9:47 a.m.

    The fetus may feel pin, or not, at different ages of development. It may be no greater pain than I must have felt, but do not remember, when I was circumcised. I believe the shift in public tolerance for setting a 20 or 26 week time line, is not out of concern for the pain the fetus feels. Rather, it is a reflection of the public sentiment that a woman should make a decision by the 5th month. The down side for many children born pre-term is that of medical and development issues that cost someone millions of dollars, per child, per year to treat, manage, or resolve. Those are dollars from either a charity such as St. Judes, or other hospitals, or from insurance companies which base your rate and mine, on the costs of these expenses. Or lastly, the cost is picked up by the taxpayer.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Sept. 3, 2013 9:33 a.m.

    "The indisputable biological fact is that from the moment of conception on, the baby is a human baby.... to kill it, for whatever reason, is actually killing a human being. "

    Are abortion exceptions for rape and incest tantamount to murder? What about life/health issues of the mother?

  • ShaunMcC La Verkin, UT
    Sept. 3, 2013 9:30 a.m.

    I must agree with Maslar. In the absence of conclusive evidence that a fetus is or is not a human being, the state has the responsibility to protect that life unless and until conclusive evidence is found and established as fact. An analogy that makes sense to me is that of a mine collapse. If there are miners still in the mine, we assume they may be alive and do all we can to rescue them. We do not just walk away because they "might be" dead.

  • William Gronberg Payson, UT
    Sept. 3, 2013 8:37 a.m.

    " All scientist agree..."

    Now there is a leap of faith.

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    Sept. 3, 2013 8:02 a.m.

    The pro-abortion crowd is livid with even the discussion. Is Conscience something that exists? Apparently so!

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    Sept. 3, 2013 7:51 a.m.

    Adoption> abortion in every measurement there is!

  • Albert Maslar CPA (Retired) Absecon, NJ
    Sept. 3, 2013 7:02 a.m.

    The question of whether a developing baby in the womb can feel pain, must always revert to the principle of law, innocent until proven guilty. If in doubt, the least damaging decision must hold. Since the child is totally unprotected and cannot speak for itself to express its pain or not, the child must be protected, if for no other reason, just in case. Once the damage is done in the womb, it cannot be undone and therefore, until and unless ability to feel pain or not is absolutely proven the humane way must be to take the precaution that the child might feel pain so therefore, cause of pain should not be inflicted.

  • Thanda Pretoria, South Africa
    Sept. 3, 2013 5:51 a.m.

    Lightbearer: You have it right. The only time taking a life is justifiable is when the person who gave the life justifies it. In the words of Job "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away".

    Only he has the right unless he commands otherwise. As the mother of a newborn baby didn't create baby that is inside of her she likewise has no right to destroy - except God command it.

    For this reason the Lord also has the right to tell not to tattoo ourselves. It is his body, not ours and he has every right to command us how we should treat it.

  • postaledith Freeland, WA
    Sept. 3, 2013 5:30 a.m.

    I would never personally get an abortion. But I am pro-choice. I got pregnant when I was 25 and I chose to keep my baby even though a few in my family demanded that I put my baby up for adoption. It's a personal choice that most times is the sole decision of the mother. I believe that education and having birth control available can be helpful. But if a woman chooses to have an abortion, it's her decision and she should be able to have it done safely within the first 12 weeks.

  • RussellCrawford Round Rock, TX
    Sept. 2, 2013 11:29 p.m.

    JSB, the fact is that it is not "life at conception". All scientist agree that life is a continuous process and that life is passed forward, not created at conception. What confuses you is that when speaking of the beginning of a life that has already been born, it can be traced back to fertilization. Life does not begin at conception, because it cannot be confirmed to exist at conception. Until the DNA of the genotype expresses the correct phenotype the product of conception cannot be proved to be alive or human. In fact 70 percent of conceptions die in the first trimester. Of those that die, 60 percent are not human enough to live as a human.
    It all boils down to the fact that 42 percent of conceptions are not human enough to live, 28 percent die for other reasons and only 30 percent become human life. So life at conception is a lie.
    The importance of that lie is that it leads otherwise reasonable people to kill born life in an effort to save fetuses. Search Google for "Scientific Abortion Laws".

  • Lightbearer Brigham City, UT
    Sept. 2, 2013 11:09 p.m.

    Re: "When is it moral and justifiable to kill an innocent human being."

    Genesis 7: "The flood engulfed the earth for forty days....And all living things that moved on the earth died, including the birds, domestic animals, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all humankind. Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died."

    Genesis 19: "Then the Lord rained down sulfur and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah .... he overthrew those cities and all that region, including all the inhabitants of the cities and the vegetation that grew from the ground."

    Exodus 12: "...the Lord attacked all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the prison ... and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was no house in which there was not someone dead."

    Joshua 6: "The wall [of Jericho] collapsed and the warriors charged straight ahead into the city and captured it. They annihilated with the sword everything that breathed in the city, including men and women, young and old, as well as cattle, sheep, and donkeys."

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    Sept. 2, 2013 10:32 p.m.

    Whether the fetus feels pain or not is not the issue. The indisputable biological fact is that from the moment of conception on, the baby is a human baby, it is metabolizing and growing and developing and to kill it, for whatever reason, is actually killing a human being. Arguments about viability and pain are just smoke screens to avoid focusing on the real issue: When is it moral and justifiable to kill an innocent human being.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Sept. 2, 2013 10:18 p.m.

    This 'fetal pain' thing is espoused by the same crowd not afraid to support the right of someone to beat the living daylights out of that same fetus in the name of god and under the guise of 'discipline', just a few years after it's born. You're grasping at excuses here, but people have sex without your permission and we should do everything we can to help them prevent unwanted pregnancies.

  • redshirt007 tranquility base, 00
    Sept. 2, 2013 8:53 p.m.

    Well of course a fetus can have pain. There's nothing that isn't tragic about abortion.

    The only thing in dispute is weather or not you want women or the government to make the decision.

    I personally think we need to step up and do more to support women NOT getting pregnant if they don't want to and supporting them and that fetus when they do.

    Do it as a church or a government I don't really care, either takes in plenty of funds to solve the problem.