Family Research Council

Fetal Pain: Can Unborn Children Feel Pain in the Womb?

By Rob Schwarzwalder Senior Vice-President

 

Advancements in biological science have vastly increased our knowledge of life in the womb. We now know more than we ever have about the experiences of children before they are born. What is unborn life like? What can unborn children do? Modern embryology tells us that at the moment of conception, the new human being possesses all of the genetic material the baby will need to develop, and if the child will be a boy or a girl. Hereditary traits such as hair and eye color are determined at this very first instant of life. Approximately 22 days later, the child's heart begins to circulate his own blood, often of a blood type different from that of his mother. At six weeks of life, electrical brain activity can be detected and the eyes, eyelids, nose, mouth, and tongue are formed. Babies this age can bend their hands at the wrist. This new skill is helpful, as children of seven weeks may be found sucking their fingers or thumbs. By eight weeks after conception, the little boy or girl is medically known as a "fetus" and contains all the organs and bodily structures, including 20 "baby" tooth buds, found in the newborn infant. Nine-week old babies are growing fingernails and toenails and are often seen swallowing, sucking their fingers or tongues, and yawning.

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