A pain in the fetus

Toward ending confusion about fetal pain

David Benatar, Michael G Benatar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Are fetuses, at any stage of their development, capable of feeling pain? In his paper, 'Locating the Beginnings of Pain', Stuart Derbyshire argues that they are not. We argue that he reaches this conclusion by way of conceptual confusion, a misreading of the available scientific data and the inclusion of irrelevant data. Despite his assertion to the contrary, the work of most scientists in the area supports the conclusion that fetuses can feel pain. At the outset we examine the concept of pain and distinguish it from the allied concept of nociception, with which it is sometimes confused. With the relevant conceptual framework in place, we elucidate the problem of determining when, in its development, a human becomes capable of feeling pain. We then examine the available data showing how, on balance, it tends more to support than undermine the claim that fetuses of around 28 to 30 weeks' gestation are capable of feeling pain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-76
Number of pages20
JournalBioethics
Volume15
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 26 2001
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

pain
Fetus
Pain
Emotions
Nociception
Human Development
Confusion
inclusion
Pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

Cite this

A pain in the fetus : Toward ending confusion about fetal pain. / Benatar, David; Benatar, Michael G.

In: Bioethics, Vol. 15, No. 1, 26.02.2001, p. 57-76.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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