This was a big week for pain news. The first headline was that fetuses at 20 weeks can’t feel pain. In this 2012-onward period of vigorous attacks on reproductive rights, attempts have been made in various states to ban abortions after 20 weeks, on the grounds that the fetus being killed is experiencing pain (both physical and in the “goo-goo ga-ga, why don’t you want me, Mommy?” way). But as far as embryologists know (which is more than you), human brains don’t connect pain receptors to pain processors until 24-26 weeks into development.
The other big pain headline was that crabs and lobsters, and probably other crustaceans that are routinely dropped live into boiling water, do experience pain. This is something everyone basically already knew. We comfort ourselves with the idea that the shrieking sound coming from the pot is air escaping the lobster’s shell, not screams, pretending that’s the only proof of pain.
“‘Assessing pain is difficult, even within humans,’ Elwood told the Newcastle meeting. But there is a ‘clear, long-term motivational change [in these experiments] that is entirely consistent with the idea of pain.'”
Read more at Nature.com
But will these findings (really, just repetitions of common scientific knowledge) result in any kind of change? Pain isn’t the sticking point with abortion even a little bit. While the laws are based on the idea of unborn fetuses feeling pain, it’s just not about that. Pain is used as “physical” proof that abortion is wrong. Cause pain is bad, right? But if someone supports killing potential humans, I dunno why they would consider that.
At best, it would have a similar effect as the news about crustaceans. That crustaceans can feel pain has been acknowledged for a while now, or at least people have taken a “better safe than sorry” approach and adopted quick methods of killing them. A solid jab to the back of the “neck.” But they still kill them. They gotta have that butter-vehicle.
Likewise, people gotta have abortions, and other people gotta stop abortions. Does anyone actually give a shit how much pain a fetus feels? Like on either side? People think they do. Really it just boils down to the morality of the act itself, not the level of pain experienced. The fact that people are lying about this in the face of so much evidence shows that. Even if a fetus could feel pain, would it actually make a difference to pro-choicers? Would the fact that it can’t change the mind of a pro-lifer?