Despite the Left pretending to “follow the science,” the abortion lobby hasn’t kept theirs up to date. Spurning medical research from the last several decades — which is meant to both improve standard care practices for physicians and inform policymakers — abortion supporters are sticking with the science of the 1970s. As they refuse to develop their talking points past those used to get Roe v. Wade through the federal court system, the abortion industry is propagating misinformation and harming patients through a lack of informed consent.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is a particular perpetrator of this.
While the organization is meant to lead medical experts in maternal-fetal care, ACOG states, “The science conclusively establishes that a human fetus does not have the capacity to experience pain until after at least 24–25 weeks [about five and a half months].” In the same breath, however, they also maintain that “facts are important.” Which one is it exactly? Because their former claim fails to recognize the most recent developments in our understanding of fetal pain.
While there does seem to be a real consensus that fetal pain begins at 20 weeks at the very latest, some publications (including one written by Drs. Derbyshire and Bockmann in 2020) demonstrate the high likelihood that fetal pain is possible as early as 12 weeks.
In studying fetal development, we know the physiological pain system (the cortical subplate and thalamus) is present by 12 weeks, but to study whether the preborn child actually feels pain via the developed structures this early would violate bioethical practice not only in the possible infliction of pain upon the fetus but in the invasive nature of the research upon the mother. Consequently, this is really the closest we are able to ethically get at this time.
Unfortunately, when major medical organizations like ACOG deny such research, their misinformation affects both abortion legislation and the advancement and practice of fetal surgery. While some fetal surgeries are performed as early as 16 weeks, the myth that the preborn child cannot feel pain until 24 weeks can lead to physicians feeling they do not need to provide fetal analgesia. Even if the data on fetal pain was not as clear as it is, morality should encourage medical professionals to err on the side of caution rather than to unwittingly do harm.
But fetal pain is not the only misinformed science propagated by the abortion lobby.
Further along in pregnancy, when discussing fetal viability, abortion supporters work even harder to push the extreme and outdated viability limits under Roe, ignoring their (now reversed) victory in Planned Parenthood v. Casey which at least acknowledged the relativity of viability to our society’s ability to advance medical technologies.
As an example, the academic spin room of the abortion lobby, the Guttmacher Institute, “updated” their definition of viability in August 2022, stating, “A fetus generally reaches viability between 24 and 28 weeks LMP (gestational age).”
This definition could only be considered up-to-date if it was made in 1973. It’s half a century later, however, and as previously noted, viability is not a fixed gestational time point.
The Casey opinion notes fetal viability to be 28 weeks when Roe was passed down in 1973, but even the pro-abortion American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) now notes the window of “periviability” where there is a chance of survival after preterm birth as early as 20 weeks to 25 weeks and 6 days gestation due to recent advances in the field. In fact, the earliest premature baby to survive was born at 21 weeks and 1 day.
Though viability can be a helpful tool in medicine, the legal application of viability is nothing but discriminatory. It assumes viability to be central to what determines human value, but placing any qualification on humanity creates a hierarchical and systematic oppression of the group lacking the quality…in this case, the previable preborn child.
Pro-life physicians and research professionals must continue to prioritize gaining a deeper knowledge of life in the womb for the sake of defending vulnerable preborn children from the weaponization of outdated science. It’s time the abortion lobby was pulled forward into the twenty-first century and forced to acknowledge the scientific developments that have led to our modern understanding of the preborn human as a unique, whole, and valued second patient during pregnancy.
Let’s stop stealing from the 1970s; abortion supporters, give them their science back.
Gavin Oxley is Students for Life of America’s lead operations supervisor and medical/law coordinator, as well as the founder/CEO of Future Medical Professionals for Life.
The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.