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View Diary: Extreme Religion Stops a Thinking Brain - and Kills Women and Teenage Girls (263 comments)

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  •  Please define "insentient embryo"... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    political mutt

    and explain how you have determined that late-term fetuses are "insentient" without resorting to faith.

    •  I haven't... (28+ / 0-)

      ...determined that late term fetuses are insentient, nor have I claimed that they are. What do you mean by "late term?"

      It is known that there is sufficient brain development by late in the third trimester for sentience, but not before then.

      But this has been determined by researchers in neuroscience, not by me.

      I might turn the following into a diary. It is an excerpt from a book I am writing.


      An especially slanted, sentimental, and unfounded appeal to the uneducated, mind-abducted, and gullible among us is the completely fraudulent claim that even early embryos and fetuses feel pain when aborted. Suffice it to say here that conscious perception of pain or anything else depends upon sufficient development of that portion of the brain in which conscious perception happens, the cerebral cortex (the uppermost and outer layer of the brain, and the last to fully develop, frequently referred to as the “grey matter”), as well as the fully functioning chain of connections of the cerebral cortex to lower components of the nerve pathways through which stimuli that would be experienced as pain travel to the cortex. It is agreed among the neuroscientists who are recognized authorities in this area that there is not adequate development of the nervous system to make conscious perception even possible until at least well into the third trimester of pregnancy. Uninformed, misinformed, or dishonest individuals often submit that the reaction of a fetus to stimuli proves that the fetus can feel pain. They refer to observations made upon fetuses born extremely prematurely and upon fetuses during prenatal open-uterus surgical procedures that these fetuses will react by movement when touched or probed. This type of reaction, however, does not represent conscious perception at all, but only spinal cord and brainstem reflex. It is exactly the same kind of reaction that many have observed in junior high school biology labs when the legs of decapitated frogs jerked in response to being stuck with a sharp probe – unconscious reflex, not conscious perception.

      Or the old familiar tap on the patellar tendon below the kneecap that results in an involuntary kick of the leg.

      However, what if fetuses did feel pain when aborted?  Just a brief mention of two factors explains why, regardless of when a fetus might consciously experience pain, I regard even that as supportive of the legality and morality of the choice to abort an unwanted pregnancy, not of its prohibition. First, though, let's consider what we call pain. It has three components, all of which exist in various degrees:

      (1) the acute discomfort,

      (2) the sometimes protraction into chronic pain, and

      (3) the effects on the mind of the memory of it.  

      Obviously, in considering the pain that results in immediate death of the organism, as in abortion, (2) and (3) can be disregarded, leaving us to consider only (1), the acute pain of the fatal event. Even if one supposes that even early embryos can consciously perceive pain (which is an absurd belief), the pain of abortion would be instantaneously over and done with and of course leave no memory of it. This has to be balanced against a consideration generally ignored, belittled, or lied about in "pro-life" propaganda: the physical and emotional pain of pregnancy and childbirth experienced by the unwilling woman (remember her?), which is protracted, often severe, and often accompanied by significant, sometimes enormous, pain and suffering related to the effects of being forced to endure an unwanted pregnancy and childbirth on her life, on her preexisting relationships and responsibilities, and on her livelihood and ability to support herself and the children she might already have - all of which entail conditions and considerations unique to her that she is in a much better place to manage than the broad brush-stroke of an unyielding legal prohibition. That is the first factor alluded to above - that if we consider the alleviation of pain and suffering as the moral imperative that would guide us to follow the least painful course, and we therefore have to choose between the acute (actually non-existent) pain of an embryo or 1st or 2nd trimester fetus being aborted vs. the unequivocal pain and prolonged suffering of a woman forced to endure an unwanted pregnancy, labor, and childbirth, it is clear that the compassionate course of action is abortion. Compassion itself makes sense only when it is applied to the comfort and well-being of conscious beings. Why any concern for the feelings of an entity that cannot experience feelings?

      The second factor concerns the possible pain experienced by third trimester fetuses as they approach the developmental level at which conscious perception of pain becomes a real possibility. Contrary to "pro-life" propaganda, third trimester abortions are not regarded by anyone as frivolous undertakings, simply because they are quite difficult to perform safely, requiring an unusual degree of experience on the part of the physician. Nobody I know likes to do them. That is why all this "pro-life" rhetoric about their being cavalierly and frequently undertaken is such blatant nonsense. When they are undertaken, it is almost invariably due to very serious fetal anomalies that are often causes of considerable pain themselves. Even if we focus only upon the fetus and forsake, as the "pro-life" mandate would require, all compassion for the poor woman who knows she is carrying a fetus doomed to pain, severe dysfunction, and even early death, what about the protraction of pain and suffering we would be imposing upon the fetus and subsequent baby - pain and suffering of a much higher magnitude and duration than what might be experienced in an abortion procedure? In comparison to that, abortion is merciful, and to deny it is cruel, even for the fetus.

      Therefore, it is clear that pain and suffering are alleviated by abortion, not caused by it, no matter at what developmental level a fetus might consciously experience pain.

      No matter how fervently you believe that you know what you merely believe, you merely believe it, and you might be wrong - very wrong.

      by Beket on Mon May 09, 2011 at 05:34:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The extensive research of Dr. David Mellor, et al. (14+ / 0-)

      makes a good start: Fetal 'awareness' and 'pain': What precautions should be taken to safeguard fetal welfare during experiments? [pdf file]

      Some very good science suggests that all mammalian fetuses--including our own--remain sedated until after birth, when the first breath is taken.

      What if the King James Version was right?

      And the LORD God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.


      "Texas is going to shrink government until it fits into a woman's uterus." -- Texas State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte

      by moiv on Mon May 09, 2011 at 05:39:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Real simple, ravenmad. (0+ / 0-)

      It doesn't have the "breath of life" in you PERIOD! Go figure it out if you're that stupid!

      Since when have greed, stupidity, and downright lying become virtues? Since Reagan, that's when!

      by orlbucfan on Tue May 10, 2011 at 04:02:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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