Now, in a blow to America's anti-abortion lobby, a British report has undercut the case for the measure, finding that fetuses at 24 weeks or less do not feel pain and exist in a state of "sedation" even afterward.
The report, commissioned by the British government and published this week by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, consists of a review of studies conducted since 1997 on the neuroanatomical and physiological development of the fetus. It concludes that fetuses at the 24-week stage of development do not possess the wiring to transmit pain signals from the body to the brain's cortex. Even after 24 weeks, the fetus likely exists in a state of "continuous sleep-like unconsciousness or sedation," due to the presence of chemicals such as adenosine in the surrounding amniotic fluid.
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