- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 1, 2018

NBC News approvingly quoted a doctor who claims humans likely cannot feel pain “until birth.”

Dr. Daniel Grossman, a faculty member at the University of California San Francisco, made the claim in reference to the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks that Senate Democrats blocked on Monday.

“Research has shown a fetus does not yet have the capacity to experience pain until at least the third trimester, and unlikely until birth,” Mr. Grossman said in a series of tweets directed at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican.

Dr. Grossman, a board member of the NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation and a former consultant to Planned Parenthood, was later approvingly featured in an NBC News Health article, the headline of which fawned, “This doctor just explained late-term abortion – on Twitter.”

The article was first reported by the Media Research Center.

The doctor said scientific studies show it’s impossible for the unborn to feel pain.

“The nerve fibers that connect the pain receptors to the cerebral cortex, where they would be able to perceive the pain, those fibers aren’t even presented until the third trimester of pregnancy – after 26 or 28 weeks,” Dr. Grossman told NBC.

“So the connections just aren’t there,” he continued. “All the best evidence by researchers in this area indicated that if the fetus can feel pain at all while in the womb, it’s really later, in the third trimester.”

Medical experts disagree about the gestational age at which a fetus can feel pain.

Studies have found that the unborn recoil from painful stimuli as early as 20 weeks post-fertilization. Significant increases in stress hormones are also associated with exposure to painful stimuli.

During floor debate Monday over the pain-capable bill, Sen. Bill Cassidy, a physician, said there’s “strong evidence” that “babies can feel pain despite the fact that nerve connections between the different parts of the brain are still developing.”

“That is why fetal anesthesia is routinely administered when unborn children require surgery in the womb,” the Louisiana Republican said.

• Bradford Richardson can be reached at brichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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