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Science Reveals the Humanity of the Unborn Child

Can fetuses (or unborn children) really feel pain and experience a human connection with other humans? New scientific research provides a mass of evidence that they can. Here are some of the facts from the latest research:

• There is now strong evidence that fetuses as early as twelve weeks exhibit conscious, intentional behavior and that they actively discriminate among similar sensory experiences.

• At 12 weeks the baby demonstrates intentional “social” movements—behavior that isn’t accidental nor reflexive but demonstrates conscious awareness of the environment, and intentional—even social—planning of physical actions.

• As early as 14 weeks, fetuses distinguish between music and mere vibrational noise that stimulates the same auditory pathways.

• At 19–23 weeks unborn babies electively respond to and distinguish between different types of external stimulation, displaying more intentional movement to their mother’s belly touch than to maternal speaking.

• As early as 20 weeks, fetal hand movements toward the mouth and eyes are straighter and less jerky, revealing a surprisingly advanced level of motor planning.

Stuart Derbyshire, a researcher and former pro-choice consultant, was considered “a leading voice against the likelihood of fetal pain.” Yet, faced with mounting scientific evidence to the contrary, Derbyshire changed his mind and wrote, “The evidence, and a balanced reading of that evidence, points toward an immediate and unreflective pain experience mediated by the developing function of the nervous system from as early as 12 weeks.”

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