First Person Life


Premature babies feel pain.....

Here's an article I never did publish. I meant to, but didn't. It's interesting that even after a year and a half, there is little coverage of this study by U.S. news outlets. I think this makes my point even more emphatically.

=-=- April 2006 -=-=

I admit it, I know media bias exists but often I've found myself either ignoring the issue or giving the media the benefit of the doubt. But this story about premature infants and pain is so egregious that I can't ignore it.

It has taken the New York Times a full week to find a way to temper the results of this scientific study in order to make it palatable to a country which doesn't want to think that the tens of thousands of babies it murders each year feel the pain associated with being dismembered.

Let's look at this horrific travesty in journalism, shall we?

From the University College London Press Release of April 5, 2006:
The research team used near-infrared spectroscopy to demonstrate that babies have an increased haemodynamic response in the brain following painful stimulation. This response is a reliable measure of pain as it directly relates brain activity with painful stimulation.

Also, a quote from the lead author of the study in the same press release:

"There is evidence that these repeated painful procedures are a significant stressor and lead to increased sensitivity to other non-painful procedures. Since pain information is transmitted to the preterm infant cortex from 25 weeks, there is the potential for pain experience to influence brain development from a very early age, as the brain is highly malleable at this stage of development."

Ok, to summarize: The study methodology (according the press release) uses a "reliable measure of pain." That is, the study proves that the infant FEELS PAIN. It hurts. It is a physiological fact that, when stuck in the heal with a lance for routine medical procedures, the child does not simply "react" to a "stimulus" but the child actually does feel pain. Are we clear on that?

Furthermore, evidence suggests that "repeated painful procedures" have a lasting impact on the child because they "lead to increased sensitivity" even "to other non-painful procedures." So the study authors theorize that there is a memory of this pain and an association of this painful event to the attendent circumstances so that when similar circumstances arise (i.e. other non-painful procedures), it seems they become anxious and have a heightened sensitivity.

Ok, the press release seems pretty clear as to the meaning and implications of the research. Babies as young as 25 weeks after conception (possibly earlier, but that wasn't studied) actually feel pain. Should be pretty cut and dry.... unless you're a NY Times reporter.

Under the headline: Even Tiny Babies Have Ouch Centers in the Brain, the NY Times decides to tackle this issue (a full week after the study was published).

My first reaction is, "Ouch Centers"?!?!?! Heaven forbid we use a clear headline like "Babies Feel Pain." That might offend someone. But let's use a nice soft phrase and say, "Tiny Babies Have Ouch Centers." From this alone, I should have known what was coming...

Opening Paragraph:
Premature babies may be aware of pain in much the same way as older children and adults, according to a British study.

This must be different research... Remember above when the research team said, "This response is a reliable measure of pain as it directly relates brain activity with painful stimulation." So we've gone from the study being a "reliable measure of PAIN" (emphasis mine) to some sort of faint, potential awareness of pain.

Closing two paragraphs:
Despite the identical brain activity, differences remain in the ways babies and older children experience pain, said Maria Fitzgerald, the study's senior author and a professor of developmental neurobiology at University College London.

"An older child will have a much greater emotional and cognitive understanding of pain," Dr. Fitzgerald said, "and therefore have associated anxiety. What we show is that the youngest babies have a pure sensory response, but we cannot assume that they interpret it or analyze it in the same way."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but from my recollection of psychology, "interpretation" and "analysis" come after experience. That is to say, in what way does it matter how babies "interpret" or "analyze" pain. The fact is, IT HURTS!

It's painfully obvious that the NY Times author was digging for a quote to soften the blow to the pro-abortion crowd as to the relevance of this study. For the pro-abortionist, why should it matter how babies "analyze" or "interpret" pain... the whole concept of abortion is to kill it anyway. Their whole argument to date has been that the baby doesn't (or it isunknowable whether or not they do) feel pain.

It's interesting that this story continues to get no coverage in the US press on this issue -- in spite of the fact that many states are considering bills requiring notification of the mother that a baby feels pain during an abortion (most bills specify after 20 weeks). Seems like a published scientific study into the question should be important news for many in the U.S... unless, of course, those whom we trust to give us the information we need have an agenda of their own.

-=-=Other Research

Late abortion and the 'fetal pain' fallacy - Author argues:
The USA's ban on 'partial-birth abortion' rests on flawed arguments about fetal development.
A new front in abortion battle: Questions raised on pain of fetus - Boston Globe, February 3, 2005
Controversial abortion bill passes in Arizona
'Fetal pain bill' may become law, other states passed similar legislation
- MSNBC - Abrams Report - February 16, 2006
Local lawmakers active in committees - According to the article: "Planned Parenthood says there is no evidence to support pain to the fetus."


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