The Corner

Fetal Pain

Many readers have complained that in last night’s post I unfairly lumped

together under the label “pro-choice” those who believe abortion is

permissible at all stages in pregnancy according to the desire of the

mother, and those whose qualms kick in at the third trimester. My point,

made clumsily, perhaps, is that seeing one’s own baby sucking her thumb at

34 weeks illustrates the astonishing continuum of fetal development. The

infant who I saw yesterday yawning and scrubbing her face with tiny hands is

exactly the same infant who has passed earlier milestones of gestation: 8

weeks, 12 weeks, 20 weeks, 24 weeks, whatever. A baby in the second

trimester is but a brief time from being in the third trimester, and thus

weeks away from breathing the same air we do; it is not possible logically

to argue that there is a difference of kind rather than merely of degree.

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