The following comes from a September 3 story by Steven Ertelt on

Earlier this year, as members of Congress debated a bill to ban late-term abortions, a national debate ensued over the question of whether unborn children feel pain. Abortion activists derided studies and expert testimony confirming fetal pain.

Now, an anesthesiology professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Dr. Ray Paschall, who has done more surgeries with fetal anesthesia than any doctor in the world, says babies feel pain not only before birth but before viability:

“It’s not even close,” he told a newspaper about his status as the leading surgeon with experience with fetal anesthesia surgeries, “I’ve personally done around 260 now.”

Paschall was part of a team that developed fetal surgery for myelomeningocele, a type of spina bifida, where the spine fails to close correctly, leaving it exposed to corrosive amniotic fluid. The result is severe nerve damage, partial paralysis and hydrocephalus, or water on the brain.

Pre-birth intervention has been found to significantly improve outcomes. The target age for these surgeries, Paschall said, is between 21 and 25 weeks of gestational age, which happens to be precisely the age targeted in fetal pain abortion legislation.

These fetuses are not viable outside the womb. But they do, Paschall firmly believes, feel pain. They thus are right in the target zone of fetal pain legislation.

In one of their early surgeries, Paschall says he saw, and Dr. Noel Tullipan felt, a fetus move in response to pain. Paschall said he is “absolutely convinced, 100 percent more than I was even back in 2000, that was a purposeful movement away from a neurosurgeon’s knife.”

In response, Paschall upped the doses of anesthesia for the fetus, and he has not seen one move in 200 surgeries since. “I would never go back and do less. I might do more.”

Paschall’s experience butts up against another theory offered by fetal pain skeptics, who argue that the unborn fetus is immersed in a mix of fluids that chemically induce sleep, meaning that even if the brain wiring were in place, the fetus will still be oblivious. Paschall, obviously, doubts this.

“Anyone willing to make absolute statements regarding fetal, infant or adult neural development and processing is a brave person,” Paschall said, adding that “the complexities of the brain defy absolute explanation.”

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