With advances in modern science and ongoing research, it is becoming more apparent that the unborn child can feel pain by 20 weeks (five months) and even earlier in pregnancy. New ultrasound technology is bringing us bigger and better images of how babies grow in the womb, showing human life begins at conception.
In terms of the baby’s development the central nervous system starts to form at week 4 along with the spine, kidneys, liver and other major organs. The heart has already been beating since day 22. By week 5 the brain has started to divide into distinct segments and by day 42 brainwaves are detectable.
Experts in obstetrics have found “the earliest reactions to painful stimuli motor reflexes can be detected at 7.5 weeks’ gestation” [Aida Salihagić Kadić and Maja Predojević, “Fetal neurophysiology according to gestational age,” Seminars in Fetal & Neonatal Medicine 17, no. 5 (2012): 256-260].
There are situations when doctors need to perform surgery on a baby in the womb, for example with babies diagnosed with Spina Bifida. Research has found that surgery on these babies reduces the complications of the condition when the child is born if done in the womb.
The position of some medical experts, that the unborn child cannot experience pain, is inconsistent with the documented reaction of unborn children to painful stimuli and with the experience of surgeons who have found it necessary to sedate the unborn child with anaesthesia to prevent them from moving about in reaction to invasive surgery. Unborn children have been seen flinch, jerk and recoil from sharp objects and incisions on ultrasound scans.
Given the evidence that unborn babies experience pain, more and more people are realizing that abortion is an inhumane and intolerable act of violence against defenseless human beings.