Fetus Feels No Pain Before 24 Weeks: Study

Major British review says brain connections aren't formed

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 25, 2010 6:56 AM CDT

(Newser) – The human fetus is naturally "sedated" and feels no pain before 24 weeks, say British researchers. In fact, it may not feel any pain until birth, reports the BBC. The scientific review, commissioned by Britain's Department of Health, is likely to roil the abortion debate in Britain and in the US.

The researchers at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists concluded that because brain connections aren't fully formed, the fetus exists in what amounts to an unconscious state. The review focused on the 24-week mark, which is the legal upper limit for British abortions. "It can be concluded that the fetus cannot experience pain in any sense prior to this gestation," the report states. More details at the Guardian.

An ultrasound image.   (Shutterstock)
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