New Study Shows Unborn Babies Feel Pain at 12 Weeks

Katey Price, J.D.  

“Science Again Points to the Humanity of the Unborn.”


Washington, D.C.  – A new study “Reconsidering Fetal Pain” confirms that babies in the womb can feel pain as early as 12 weeks old. Writing in the Journal of Medical Ethics, Stuart W.G. Derbyshire and John C. Bockmann state:

“Overall, the evidence, and a balanced reading of the evidence, points towards an immediate and unreflective pain experience mediated by the developing function of the nervous system as early as 12 weeks.”

Dr. David Prentice, Vice President and Research Director of the Charlotte Lozier Institute commented:

“Unborn babies feel pain. The science has clearly shown for years that unborn children can perceive pain in the womb, but this is a significant admission by doctors on both sides of the abortion debate, recognizing that even early in human development, the unborn can feel pain. And as the authors note, ‘the mere experience of pain…is morally significant.’ Science again points to the humanity of the unborn.”

CLI scholars have been researching the science of fetal pain. For more information, see this Q&A document from neuroscientist Katrina Furth on fetal brain development.


Learn more from Dr. Sheila Page, a pain specialist, about the developing nervous system of fetuses and the ability to sense pain in this document.


Charlotte Lozier Institute was launched in 2011 as the education and research arm of Susan B. Anthony List. CLI is a hub for research and public policy analysis on some of the most pressing issues facing the United States and nations around the world. The Institute is named for a feminist physician known for her commitment to the sanctity of human life and equal career and educational opportunities for women.



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