As mentioned in previous editions of Life in Oregon, one of Oregon Right to Life’s top legislative priorities is the Pain-Capable Infant Protection Act. A version of this bill is being introduced in both the Oregon House and Senate. It would limit abortions after 15 weeks gestational age, when the child feels pain.
The science of fetal pain has a long and complicated history. For decades, the apparent consensus was that an unborn child couldn’t feel pain until 24 weeks at the earliest. However, this position can no longer be supported by evidence.
As early as 18 weeks gestation, the infant shows evidence of feeling pain. According to the Charlotte Lozier Institute, infants at this age have responded to needles “with a stress response that includes recoiling and increasing circulating stress hormones in his bloodstream,” clear indications of a pain reaction.
Some experts believe that infants may be able to feel pain even earlier than 15 weeks. In an article titled “Reconsidering Fetal Pain,” researchers Stuart Derbyshire and John Bockmann (one of whom is pro-choice) argue that the fetus may feel pain as early as 12 weeks gestational age. They argue that the old 24-week view incorrectly held that certain parts of the brain are necessary to experience pain. In reality, the basic structures that allow humans to feel pain develop much earlier in the child’s life.
All infants should be protected from the violence of abortion. The evidence shows that the unborn child is highly likely to experience pain by 15 weeks gestation. It is imperative, therefore, that pro-lifers protect these precious children in culture and laws.