As the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act heads to the Senate after passing in the House, the argument over when a fetus can feel pain has arisen once again. The act looks to ban abortion after 20 weeks gestation on the basis that it is cruel to inflict the pain of abortion on a preborn child. Science has proven that a fetus can feel pain — and research shows that it may be even earlier than 20 weeks, as doctors have testified.

In 2012, Dr. Colleen Malloy, assistant professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, testified at a hearing for the District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. Dr. Malloy’s testimony is vital as it shows that abortion not only takes the life of a child but tortures that child. Dr. Malloy treats infants born at 22 weeks gestation (20 weeks post-fertilization) and comes to the critical conclusion:

As we provide care for all of these survivors, we are able to witness their experiences with pain. In fact, standard of care for neonatal intensive care units requres attention to and treatment of neonatal pain. There is no reason to believe that a born infant would feel pain any differently than that same infant were he or she still in utero. Thus, the difference between fetal and neonatal pain is simply the locale in which the pain occurs. The receiver’s experience of the pain is the same. I could never imagine subjecting my tiny patients to horrific procedures such as those that involve limb detachment or cardiac injection [in abortion].

Dr. Malloy goes on to state that not only do fetuses at this stage feel pain but that they have a “heightened sensation of pain compared to an infant more advanced in gestation.”

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