JAMA, abortion, and all the crying babies

“If Congress wants an objective evaluation of whether calves and lambs are being slaughtered humanely, they will not rely too much on the report from the operators of slaughterhouses.”

—Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a seven-page research article yesterday regarding pain and fetal development. Five researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) pored over nearly 2,000 studies before arriving at their conclusions.

Or did they? Is it possible the conclusion was already in hand before even beginning the research?

According to USA Today, Susan J. Lee is the article’s lead author. Susan is an attorney currently studying medicine at UCSF. That’s nice. However, before deciding to advance the cause of medicine, she advanced the cause of abortion rights while serving as counsel for the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL Pro-Choice America — be sure to see Stan Guthrie’s piece about NARAL and it’s true history). Not so nice.

Another of the fearsome five authors is Eleanor Drey, MD, MEd, current medical director of the Women’s Options Center at San Francisco General Hospital. She is a provider of abortions, a self-described “expert in abortion,” and has an impressive vitae (far more impressive than mine, though a tad more lethal, as well). What has she been working on lately, besides making it easier for women to abort children—um, pregnancies? One of her current, privately funded, research projects is titled, “Barriers to early abortion.” The purpose of the research? “To analyze what factors influence late presentation for abortion.”

Can we safely assume Ms. Drey would like women to opt for abortions earlier, ever earlier?

The five authors’ mind-numbing foray into a mile of published research concluded, naturally, that

Current “legislative proposals to allow fetal pain relief during abortion are not justified by scientific evidence.”

Am I suggesting there was an agenda driving the research? You be the judge.

The timing is curious, after all: a proposal by Kansas Senator Sam Brownback was introduced in Congress on January 24, this year. HR 356, the “Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act,” requires doctors to provide verbal and printed evidence to women 20+ weeks pregnant that the fetus will feel pain if they abort and requires providing an option for “fetal pain treatment.”

(Pain treatment involves anesthetizing the fetus before abortion. According to Dr. Dr. Kanwaljeet ‘Sonny’ Anand, a pediatrician at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, there is plenty of circumstantial evidence implying babies in the womb feel pain, for they react to painful stimuli, and draw away from it. Pain causes fetal heart rates, blood flow, and hormone levels all increase in the unborn child. Anand says, “I believe the fetus is conscious.” To further his case, he cites premature babies only 23 weeks old who cry when their heels are pricked for blood tests and learn to recoil from people approaching their feet. The paper’s supporters dismiss this, saying it’s nothing more than a spinal cord, “knee-jerk” reflex having nothing to do with pain.)

Senator Brownback reports:

“Not only can [unborn children] feel … their ability to experience pain is heightened. The highest density of pain receptors per square inch of skin in human development occurs in utero from 20 to 30 weeks gestation.”

So, let’s see, in late January, a law is proposed requiring that women be fully informed about the pain their babies will feel upon death. Over the next five months, a crack team of five researchers furiously pound the books, reviewing 500 articles apiece. Unaware of the conflict in interests held by two of the five-member team, JAMA published the seven-page distillation of their wisdom: There is no pain in the womb.

Thus, according to brilliant medical students, a lawyer, and an abortionist, we now know that not only does life not begin in the womb, but there is no pain there, either.

I have to wonder why would pro-abortionists care? I mean, if a fetus is not a child, if a fetus is only a “potential” human until it magically flails about and gasps for breath, if a fetus is merely disposable tissue, then why would abortionists suddenly feel a need to prove that it doesn’t feel pain?

Was this paper produced to advance the state of medical knowledge, or would a small step toward treating unborn children with the dignity they deserve be bad for the abortion business?

Coauthor Eleanor Drey admits she would “troubled” to be legally compelled to inform her patients about fetal pain.

“Our systematic review has shown it’s extremely unlikely that pain exists at a point when abortions are done. I’m going to have to talk about something I know will cause the patient distress, something that by our best assessment of the scientific data is not relevant.”

Sarah Stoesz, CEO of Minnesota’s Planned Parenthood organization, agrees. But she’s even more explicit:

“When women are already facing a very difficult decision about terminating a pregnancy that they and their families deeply want, to force them to consider that on the top of everything else they might be inflicting pain seems to me cruel and unforgivable.”

No, you wouldn’t want to cause the patient distress when you’re in the business of ending lives, now, would you? That would be cruel.


>> Update:

Turns out other members of the study team also had deeper involvement in the abortion industry than initially reported. See Jill Stanek’s blog for more on that.

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Like an idiot, I forgot to check the JAMA website for the article. If the catalyst for the team’s research wasn’t clear (potential legislation), and if the timing doesn’t reveal the team’s potential bias, see what the abstract says:

Proposed federal legislation would require physicians to inform women seeking abortions at 20 or more weeks after fertilization that the fetus feels pain and to offer anesthesia administered directly to the fetus. This article examines whether a fetus feels pain and if so, whether safe and effective techniques exist for providing direct fetal anesthesia or analgesia in the context of therapeutic procedures or abortion.

(Also, a friend on an A/G discussion listserv sent me a link to the “Silent Scream” video—a sonogram taken during an abortion. This is not easy to watch. For good reason. I won’t watch it, myself. I really don’t need the imagery in my head.)

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Discussion and commentary on other blogs right now that you might be interested in:

[tags]BlogRodent, abortion, JAMA, prolife, pro-abortion, senator-brownback, anti-abortion[/tags]

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