- The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, a case that could potentially overturn Roe v. Wade.
- Sonia Sotomayor argued that fetal pain is a “fringe” idea and denied the possibility of fetal pain before 24 weeks.
- Pro-life activists publicly criticized Sotomayor’s comments, which they say minimize the pain babies feel during abortions.
Pro-life activists criticized Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s Wednesday comments that fetal pain before 24 weeks was a “fringe” idea.
“Modern research is revealing that unborn babies do feel pain at an early stage, and we see that science in action regularly during fetal surgery, in which doctors apply analgesia in utero to prevent the suffering of the unborn child,” Dr. David Prentice, Charlotte Lozier Institute vice president of research and an expert on stem cell research, said in a Dec. 1 press release.
“Respectfully, we suggest that Justice Sotomayor follow the science, which has not stood still since Roe was decided in 1973,” Prentice stated.
The Court heard oral arguments Wednesday morning in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, a case that directly challenges Roe’s prohibition on abortion bans in the first six months of pregnancy. The Court is expected to release a decision on whether to uphold Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban and possibly overturn Roe in late June.
“Justice Sotomayor’s calloused disregard for the preborn is matched with stunning disinformation as she denies the fact that babies in their mothers womb can feel pain,” Live Action president Lila Rose told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “These preborn children can feel pain, and at 15 weeks, do feel immense pain as they are dismembered alive, in a D & E abortion, in which an abortionist uses forceps with metal teeth to tears them into pieces, limb from torso, and crush their heads.”
Mississippi Attorney General Scott Stewart challenged Roe’s standard of viability: that the state does not have an interest in protecting the life of a child until 24 weeks (six months) into pregnancy. Stewart argued that babies’ ability to feel pain before viability should play a role in determining whether the state should protect their lives.
“I don’t see how that really adds anything to the discussion, that a small fringe of doctors believe that pain could be experienced before a cortex is formed,” Sotomayor said while interrupting Stewart repeatedly.
In response to Stewart’s assertion that babies recoil from surgical instruments at as young as 15 weeks, Sotomayor argued that braindead people, who are considered officially dead in most states, can still sometimes respond to stimuli such as being touched on the feet.
“I don’t think that a response by a fetus necessarily proves there’s a sensation of pain or that there’s consciousness,” she said.
Fetal pain is possible at as early as 12 weeks, according to Dr. Stuart Derbyshire, a prominent neurologist who was a leading voice against the possibility of pre-viability fetal pain before changing his position in light of scientific advancements.
Attorneys for the Jackson abortion clinic cited Derbyshire’s earlier research in their amicus brief and did not include his more recent publication in the BMJ’s Journal of Medical Ethics, which argues that fetal pain is possible before the cortex is fully developed, possibly as early as 12 weeks.
“Not only does medicine agree that fetal anesthesia be administered for fetal surgery, a clear reflection of the medical consensus that unborn babies can feel pain, but like viability, the line marking when they feel pain continues to inch earlier,” Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, a physician who works with fetal ultrasounds on a daily basis, commented on Twitter Wednesday.