I didn't realize that the medical community had been bewildered as to whether premature newborns could feel pain. Now, hi-tech evidence shows that they do, in fact, experience pain:
Premature babies experience feelings of pain rather than simply displaying reflex reactions, a study says.
Experts have never been sure how a premature baby responds to pain, the Journal of Neuroscience reported.
But a team from University College London found that they do feel pain after analysing brain scans taken when blood samples were being drawn.
They hope the findings will lead to more formal plans for managing pain in premature babies.
Lead researcher Professor Maria Fitzgerald said: "We have shown for the first time that the information about pain reaches the brain in premature babies.
"Beforehand, although we could assume it, we did not know for sure that these babies could feel pain.
"These babies' brains are so immature that it was difficult to genuinely know that the pain was going to their brain."
Previous research had shown that premature babies are capable of displaying behavioural, physiological and metabolic signs of pain and distress.
However, the measures were all indirect and could be dismissed as bodily reflex reactions, rather than measures of true pain experience.
The scientists behind this UK study are very committed now, to doing everything they can to alleviate preemie pain during the myriad procedures those little ones undergo to stay alive.
I rather wonder what the unlimited abortion crowd will make of this study. That is, the crowd that believes that a woman has the right to abort an infant up until the moment before the infant is born will now have to grapple with the fact that those infants, both at the end of the second trimester and during the entirety of the third trimester, feel pain. You're not just erasing an organism that, in its early state is visually indistinguishable from a dog or chicken zygote (or even a dog fetus), you're snuffing out something that not only looks like a living baby, but acts like one too.
As I've always said, I'm ambivalent about whether, during the first trimester, abortion should continue to be generally available; or whether it should available only in cases of rape, incest, or risk to the mother; or whether it should be done away with entirely. I'm pretty damn clear, though, about my revulsion at the thought of late term abortions, especially the "partial birth" kind. And yes, I know that that the zygote or very young fetus is, so to speak "the father of the infant," and that killing the zygote or minimally developed fetus has the same practical result — extermination — as killing the fetus in its later stages (or the infant at the moment of, or after, birth). Still, irrationally, I'm more comfortable with the thought of balancing the woman's life against a cell clump or low functioning fetus, than I am balancing the woman's life against a manifest human being that experiences pain.