Friday, January 27, 2006

University of Washington Obstetrician calls Fetal Pain Experts "Abject Fools"

An article in the Indy Star discusses new legislation in Indiana designed to help prevent abortions. Under House Bill 1172, doctors would be required to tell women that their fetuses may feel pain during an abortion and that an anesthetic may be used on the fetus if the woman is at least 20 weeks pregnant.

...according to Dr. Zane Brown, professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine, it is impossible to tell whether the fetus feels pain during an abortion.

"There's no way of knowing it," Brown said. "Anybody who would say otherwise is just an abject fool."

Because there have been plenty of fetal pain experts who have testified to the fact that fetuses do indeed feel pain, it sounds as though Dr. Brown's real argument is that since the fetus can't tell us absolutely in a sworn affidavit that she's feeling pain, we should conclude that we have no way of knowing for sure. Reversing his statement around we could also say that "We have no way of knowing that she doesn't feel pain."

The question for Dr. Brown and others who take a "we have know way of knowing" stance on this issue is -- when in doubt, do we proceed with what might be a very painful procedure? Do we blow up a building when there might be people inside? Does the absence of knowledge grant us the right to do as we wish? On second thought, maybe doctors shouldn't be the ones answering ethics questions since it is outside the scope of their expertise.

It's interesting that Dr. Brown would resort to insulting those who do specialize in and study fetal pain and have found strong evidence indicating that fetuses do feel pain. I notice that Dr. Brown is the Chair of the Human Subjects Committe A at the University of Washington. I don't know if that is relevant but I'm sure someone does.

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