No foetal pain before 24 weeks

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  • Foetusus in the womb are 'undeveloped and sedated' at 24 weeks a new review reveals.

    The human foetus cannot feel pain before 24 weeks according to an official review of scientific evidence.

    Brain connections are not fully formed and the environment of the womb creates a state of induced sleep, the review by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said.

    Without the formed nerve connections, the area that processes the feeling of pain does not work properly. ‘It can be concluded that the foetus cannot experience pain in any sense prior to this gestation,’ the report states.

    Supporters of the current abortion law have welcomed the report whilst those campaigning for further limits on abortion say the report does not reflect the full debate on the issue. Anti-abortion campaigners argue that survival rates for very premature babies have greatly increased over the last ten years and abortion is still the termination of a life.

    MPs rejected a proposal to reduce the time limit for abortion from 24 to 20 weeks in the last vote in Parliament in 2008. 

    Should the limit be lowered? Share your thoughts – however controversial – on abortion in the box below.

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