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Last Updated :
September 21, 2008

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Taken from the World Wide Web at http://www.catholic.net/RCC/Lifebook/chpt10.html

President Reagan´s Quote on Abortion
And Fetal Pain and Various Doctors Confirmations

"When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing."

President Ronald Reagan
to National Religious Broadcasters,
New York Times, Jan. 31, 1984

That statement by President Reagan was denied by some!Yes, but, then it was confirmed as accurate by a well-documented statement from an auspicious group of professors, including pain specialists and two past presidents of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The text of their letter follows:
February 13, 1984

President Ronald Reagan
The White House
Washington, DC

Mr. President:
As physicians, we, the undersigned, are pleased to associate ourselves with you in drawing the attention of people across the nation to the humanity and sensitivity of the human unborn
That the unborn, the prematurely born, and the newborn of the human species is a highly complex, sentient, functioning, individual organism is established scientific fact. That the human unborn and newly born do respond to stimuli is also established beyond any reasonable doubt.
The ability to feel pain and respond to it is clearly not a phenomenon that develops de novo at birth. Indeed, much of enlightened modern obstetrical practice and procedure seeks to minimize sensory deprivation of, and sensory insult to, the fetus during, at, and after birth. Over the last 18 years, real time ultrasonography, fetoscopy, study of the fetal EKG (electrocardiogram) and fetal EEG (electroencephalogram) have demonstrated the remarkable responsiveness of the human fetus to pain, touch, and sound. That the fetus responds to changes in light intensity within the womb, to heat, to cold, and to taste (by altering the chemical nature of the fluid swallowed by the fetus) has been exquisitely documented in the pioneering work of the late Sir William Liley -- the father of fetology.
Observations of the fetal electrocardiogram and the increase in fetal movements in saline abortions indicate that the fetus experiences discomfort as it dies. Indeed, one doctor who, the New York Times wrote, "conscientiously performs" saline abortions stated, "When you inject the saline, you often see an increase in fetal movements, it´s horrible."
We state categorically that no finding of modern fetology invalidates the remarkable conclusion drawn after a lifetime of research by the late Professor Arnold Gesell of Yale University. In "The Embryology of Behavior: The Beginnings of the Human Mind" (1945, Harper Bros.), Dr. Gesell wrote, "and so by the close of the first trimester the fetus is a sentient, moving being. We need not speculate as to the nature of his psychic attributes, but we may assert that the organization of his psychosomatic self is well under way."
Mr. President, in drawing attention to the capability of the human fetus to feel pain, you stand on firmly established ground.

Dr. Richard T. F. Schmidt, Past President, A.C.O.G., Professor of Ob/Gyn, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH
Dr. Vincent Collins, Professor of Anesthesiology, Northwestern University, University of Illinois Medical Center
Dr. John G. Masterson, Clinical Professor of Ob/Gyn, Northwestern University
Dr. Bernard Nathanson, F.A.C.O.G., Clinical Assistant Professor of Ob/Gyn, Cornell University
Dr. Denis Cavanaugh, F.A.C.O.G., Professor of Ob/Gyn, University of South Florida
Dr. Watson Bowes, F.A.C.O.G., Professor of Material and Fetal Medicine, University of North Carolina
Dr. Byron Oberst, Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Nebraska
Dr. Eugene Diamond, Professor of Pediatrics, Strict School of Medicine, Chicago, IL
Dr. Thomas Potter, Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, New Jersey Medical College
Dr. Lawrence Dunegan, Instructor of Clinical Pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh
Dr. Melvin Thornton, Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, University of Texas (San Antonio)
Dr. Norman Vernig, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota (St. Paul)
Dr. Jerome Shen, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, St. Louis University
Dr. Fred Hofmeister, Past President, A.C.O.G., Professor of Ob/Gyn, University of Wisconsin (Milwaukee)
Dr. Matthew Bulfin, F.A.C.O.G., Lauderdale by the Sea, FL
Dr. Jay Arena, Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics, Duke University
Dr. Herbert Nakata, Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, University of Hawaii
Dr. Robert Polley, Clinical Instructor of Pediatrics, University of Washington (Seattle)
Dr. David Foley, Professor of Ob/Gyn, University of Wisconsin (Milwaukee)
Dr. Anne Bannon, F.A.A.P., Former Chief of Pediatrics, City Hospital (St. Louis)
Dr. John J. Brennan, Professor of Ob/Gyn, Medical College of Wisconsin, (Milwaukee)
Dr. Walter F. Watts, Assistant Professor of Ob/Gyn, Strict School of Medicine, Chicago, IL
Dr. G. C. Tom Nabors, Assistant Clinical Professor of Ob/Gyn, Southwestern Medical College, Dallas, TX
Dr. Konald Prem, Professor of Ob/Gyn, University of Minnesota (Minneapolis)
Dr. Alfred Derby, F.A.C.O.G., Spokane, WA
Dr. Bernie Pisani, F.A.C.O.G., President, NY State Medical Society, Professor of Ob/Gyn, New York University,

But the unborn baby can´t tell us that he or she feels pain.

Pain can be detected when nociceptors (pain receptors) discharge electrical impulses to the spinal cord and brain. These fire impulses outward, telling the muscles and body to react. These can be measured.

Mountcastle, "Medical Physiology," St. Louis: C. V. Mosby, pp. 391-427

The first detectable brain activity in response to noxious (pain) stimuli occurs in the thalamus between the ninth and tenth weeks. Reinis & Goldman, "The Development of the Brain,"

Thomas Publishers, 1980, pp. 223-235

"The sensory nerve of the face, the Trigeminal nerve, is already present in all of its three branches in a four week old human embryo . . . At seven weeks they twitch or turn their head away from a stimulus in the same defensive maneuver seen at all stages of life."

E. Blechschmidt & S. Wintrap,Nat´l RTL News, May 20, 1987

Cutaneous sensory receptors appear in the perioral area in the seventh week of gestation.

et al., "Pain and Its Effects on the Human Fetus," N. Eng. J. Med, vol. 317, no. 21, p. 1322, Nov. 19, 1987

But isn´t pain mostly psychological?

There is also organic, or physiological pain which elicits a neurological response to pain.

P. Lubeskind, "Psychology & Physiology of Pain," Amer. Review Psychology, vol. 28, 1977, p. 42

Some is reflex pain?

Yes. When you stick a baby with a diaper pin, she will object. Her initial reflex recoil is exactly what happens in the womb after eight weeks when the same child is painfully stimulated Changes in heart rate and fetal movement also suggest that intrauterine manipulations are painful to the fetus.

Volman & Pearson, "What the Fetus Feels," British Med. Jour., Jan. 26, 1980, pp. 233-234.

How have lawmakers reacted to this knowledge?

There have been bills introduced to require abortionists to anesthetize the unborn baby before killing him or her.

M. Siljander, Congressional Record, E609, Feb. 23, 1984

One early dramatic account was by Dr. R. Selzer of Yale University. A needle had been inserted through the mother´s abdominal wall and into the four-month-old baby´s bag of waters when, suddenly, he related, ". . . the hub of the needle in the woman´s belly has jerked. First to one side. Then to the other side. Once more it wiggles, is tugged, like a fishing line nibbled by a sunfish. It is the fetus that worries thus."

R. Selzer, "What I Saw in Abortion," Esquire, pp. 66-67

Give some more specific quotes.

". . . as soon as pain mechanism is present in the fetus -- possibly as early as day 45 -- the methods used will cause pain. The pain is more substantial and lasts longer the later the abortion is. It is most severe and lasts longest when the method is salt poisoning. . . . They are undergoing their death agony."

Noonan, "The Experience of Pain," In New Perspectives on Human Abortion,Aletheia Books, 1981, p. 213

What of the "Nathanson" movie?

A Realtime ultrasound video tape and movie of a 12-week suction abortion is commercially available as, "The Silent Scream," narrated by Dr. B. Nathanson, a former abortionist. It dramatically, but factually, shows the pre-born baby dodging the suction instrument time after time, while its heartbeat doubles in rate. When finally caught, its body being dismembered, the baby´s mouth clearly opens wide -- hence, the title (available from American Portrait Films, P.O. Box 19266, Cleveland, OH 44119, 216-531-8600). Pro-abortionists have attempted to discredit this film. A well documented paper refuting their charges is available from National Right to Life, 419 7th St. NW, Washington, DC 20004, $2.00 p.p.A short, 10-minute video showing the testimony of the doctor who did the abortion in "Silent Scream" definitely debunks any criticism of "Silent Scream´s accuracy.

"The Answer," Bernadel, Inc., P.O. Box 1897, Old Chelsea Station, New York, NY, 10011.

Pain? What of just comfort?

"One of the most uncomfortable ledges that the unborn can encounter is his mother´s backbone. If he happens to be lying so that his own backbone is across hers [when the mother lies on her back], the unborn will wiggle around until he can get away from this highly disagreeable position."

M. Liley & B. Day, Modern Motherhood, Random House, 1969, p. 42

Give me more testimony verifying fetal pain.

"By 13 weeks, organic response to noxious stimuli occurs at all levels of the nervous system, from the pain receptors to the thalamus. Thus, at that point, the fetal organic response to pain is more than a reflexive response. It is an integrated physiological attempt to avert the noxious stimuli."

Wm. Matviuw, M.D., Diplomate, Amer. College of OB & GYN

"When doctors first began invading the sanctuary of the womb, they did not know that the unborn baby would react to pain in the same fashion as a child would. But they soon learned that he would."

Dr. A. Liley, Prof. of Fetology, University of Aukland, New Zealand

"Lip tactile response may be evoked by the end of the 7th week. At 11 weeks, the face and all parts of the upper and lower extremities are sensitive to touch. By 13.5 to 14 weeks, the entire body surface, except for the back and the top of the head, are sensitive to pain."

S. Reinis & J. Goldman,"The Development of the Brain"

"The fetus needs to be heavily sedated. The changes in heart rate and increase in movement suggest that these stimuli are painful for the fetus. Certainly it cannot be comfortable for the fetus to have a scalp electrode implanted on his skin, to have blood taken from the scalp or to suffer the skull compression that may occur even with spontaneous delivery. It is hardly surprising that infants delivered by difficult forceps extraction act as if they have a severe headache."

Valman & Pearson, "What the Fetus Feels," British Med. Jour., Jan. 26, 1980

"As early as eight to ten weeks gestation, and definitely by thirteen and a half weeks, the human fetus experiences organic pain." (See letter to President Reagan above.)

V. Collins, M.D., Diplomate and Fellow, Amer. Board of Anesthesiologists

"Dilatation and evacuation, for example, where fetal tissue is progressively punctured, ripped, and crushed, and which is done after 13 weeks when the fetus certainly responds to noxious stimuli, would cause organic pain in the fetus. Saline amnioinfusion, where a highly concentrated salt solution burns away the outer skin of the fetus, also qualifies as a noxious stimulus."

T. Sullivan, M.D., FAAP,Amer. Academy of Neurosurgeons


Last Updated : September 21, 2008