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The Silent Scream
Fish feelings and human pain.


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Fish feel pain — at least according to a recent study by British scientists. The researchers injected acetic acid or bee venom into the lips of rainbow trout and then watched how the fish behaved.

I must admit, I didn’t even know trout had lips. Nevertheless, this is said to be the first study “proving” fish perceive pain. As a result, there are groups rising up to declare anything that causes pain to a fish to be unethical. And as fishing season begins, animal rights groups have a word for all fishermen.

“We would encourage anglers to lay down their rods. It’s ridiculous that in 2003 we are still talking about whether fish feel pain — of course they do,” Dawn Carr of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) was quoted as saying.

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PETA, you may remember, opposed using dolphins and sea lions to scout for mines during the Iraq and Gulf War. The group lobbies against any practices that may cause animals harm.

Animal-rights activists tell us we should protect pre-born animals even at the egg stage. Our government agrees — at least if the animal is a protected valuable species like the bald eagle. If we destroy an eagle egg, they can impose up to a $5,000 fine or one-year imprisonment, or both — and double this for subsequent convictions!

All this news got me thinking — what about the pre-born human? Doesn’t he or she deserve at least the same protection as an eagle egg? Since over one million abortions are performed each year, isn’t anyone concerned whether these pre-born children feel pain — or are the “feelings” of fish more important?

As a family physician, I delivered more than 1,500 babies — caring for them and their families from conception. I saw these little ones on ultrasound. They’d react in response to any number of stimuli — even pain.

Experts tell us the nerves that sense pain reach the skin of the pre-born child by the ninth week of gestation. Electrical impulses pass through the nerves and spinal column between the eighth and ninth week. Brain activity in response to pain occurs between the eighth and tenth week.

At seven-weeks gestation, an unborn child will pull his limbs back if stimulated while in the womb.

By ten weeks, the palms of the hands are sensitive to touch. By eleven weeks, the face of the unborn child will respond to stimuli.

Some say we are to lay down our fishing rods, but continue the practice of abortion. But, why aren’t those who are upset about the alleged pain a trout feels screaming about the obvious pain a pre-born child can feel while being aborted?

Does it strike you as sad, even outrageous, that a pre-born eagle is worth protecting, but not a pre-born human being? Does our culture find it distressing that a rainbow trout’s pain garners media attention, but the pain of a pre-born child, when his or her innocent life is snuffed out, is not worth addressing or even discussing?

Animal-rights groups would have us accept that an eagle’s egg will invariably become an eaglet — unless destroyed — and therefore in need of society’s protection. Meanwhile, abortion advocates would have us believe that a pre-born baby does not deserve society’s protection — even if the little one would be viable outside the womb.

While animal-welfare activists call for anglers to give up their pastime in order to save aquatic animal life, they are curiously silent when it comes to calling upon the government to protect innocent human life.

Many of them would probably insist — like some did with Conner Peterson, who was brutally murdered along with his mother Laci — that the pre-born child is not human. Some even were so callous and cruel as to call little Conner an “it.”

Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known around the globe as the children’s writer Dr. Seuss, once penned Horton Hears a Who!, in which he says, “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

It’s a shame that Dr. Seuss could so clearly explain to children what many adults fail to grasp.

— Dr. Walt Larimore is vice president of medical outreach at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, Colorado.



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