Fetuses cannot feel pain, therefore U.S. legislation requiring doctors to tell women that the fetus will feel pain, or to provide pain relief during abortions, has no scientific basis and may harm the women involved, a leading expert contends. ‘This is an unwarranted piece of legislation because there is good evidence that the fetus cannot feel pain at any stage of gestation,’ said Stuart Derbyshire, senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Birmingham, U.K. He authored an review of the available data on the subject in the April 15 issue of the British Medical Journal. ‘I don’t think the question of pain resolves the argument about abortion,’ said Derbyshire, who said abortion remains a social, moral and political question. However, he said that, based on the evidence, ‘it’s illegitimate to use the possibility of pain as a way of trying to prevent abortion from occurring, because the possibility of pain doesn’t exist.’ Some other experts agreed. ‘No one wants to inflict pain in fetuses unnecessarily, nor do physicians want to put the mother at risk by the unnecessary administration of analgesics to treat her fetus, not her,’ said Dr. Henry J. Ralston, a professor […]

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