This column appears by arrangement with the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities.
policy and politics
Abortion Bans Premised on Fetal Pain Capacity
Article first published online: 13 SEP 2012
© 2012 by The Hastings Center
Hastings Center Report
Volume 42, Issue 5, pages 10–11, September-October 2012
How to Cite
Wilson, K. (2012), Abortion Bans Premised on Fetal Pain Capacity. Hastings Center Report, 42: 10–11. doi: 10.1002/hast.78
- Issue published online: 13 SEP 2012
- Article first published online: 13 SEP 2012
Abortion bans premised on fetal pain capacity are this decade's “partial-birth abortion”: a medically suspect anti-choice initiative that can be politically difficult to oppose. No one is “pro–fetal pain.” But rhetorically, the concept of “fetal pain” works to conflate the capacity for pain with the experience of pain. If pain justified banning medical procedures, all surgery would be illegal. Pain is a routine side effect of medical practice. What's unethical is unnecessary pain, and that's why the standard medical response to pain is palliation.