Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Uncertainty about fetal pain?

Perhaps the most common response offered by those who oppose the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is to question whether the unborn at 20 weeks can really feel pain. This response treats the factual question of fetal pain as the decisive issue. Opponents of the bill seem to be conceding that if the unborn does feel pain, then killing him or her should not be permitted. But if that statement is true, then it also seems true that if the unborn might feel pain, killing him or her should not be permitted, for it would risk killing a being who can experience pain and suffering.

Yet, to my knowledge, no one is claiming that we know for certain that the unborn at this stage cannot feel pain. Therefore, it seems that those who argue against the bill by questioning fetal pain are terribly misguided. Uncertainty about pain is actually a reason to support the bill.

So: If one is to rationally persist in opposing the Pain Capable legislation, he must justify his opposition on other grounds. He must argue that the question of whether the unborn can feel excruciating pain does not matter in any truly significant way. That's a difficult argument to make.