Communications Department

RCOG Article on Fetal Pain is a “Stunning Lack of Scholarship”

Jun 25, 2010 | 2010 Press Releases

Attempt by abortion advocates to mislead the public

PITTSBURGH, PA – As the 40th Annual National Right to Life Convention continued with a special general session focusing on the pain of the unborn child, a Working Party of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) released an article disputing an overwhelming body of evidence that unborn children can feel pain in utero.

The following statement may be attributed to National Right to Life Director of State Legislation Mary Spaulding Balch, J.D.

An objective expert in neurobiology would be appalled by the stunning lack of scholarship in the RCOG article.  Its authors (predominantly abortion advocates and at least one abortionist) based their claim that unborn children do not experience pain before 24 weeks on the absence of complete nerve connection to the cortex before then.

They ignore the seminal 2007 publication of “Consciousness without a cerebral cortex,” in the medical journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences and dismiss its evidence that children born missing virtually all of the cerebral cortex nonetheless experience pain. 

Ironically, the article concedes the evidence that by 20 weeks pain receptors are present throughout the unborn child’s skin, that these are linked by nerves to the thalamus and the subcortal plate, and that these children have coordinated aversive reactions to painful stimuli, and experience increased stress hormones from it.

This article is an effort by acknowledged abortion promoters to mislead the public at-large – and most tragically women considering abortion – about the increasing evidence demonstrating the unborn child’s sensitivity to pain.

The issue of fetal pain has captured headlines thanks to a landmark law enacted by the Nebraskalegislature in April which restricts abortion after twenty weeks declaring that the state has a compelling interest in the life of a pain-capable unborn child at and after twenty weeks.

The 2007 article from Behavioral and Brain Sciences is available from the NRLC Communications Department.  NRLC’s Balch is available to discuss the issue of fetal pain, the RCOG article, and the body of research demonstrating that unborn children are capable of feeling pain.  To arrange an interview contact the NRLC Communications Department on-site at the 40th Annual National Right to Life Convention at (724) 899-6245.

The National Right to Life Committee, the nation’s largest pro-life group is a federation of 50 state right-to-life affiliates and more than 3,000 local chapters.