op-ed

If Babies Can Feel The Warmth Of A Towel Then They Can Feel Pain At Twenty Weeks

Reagan Barklage Western Regional Director for Students for Life

Sometimes a headline comes alive for you when news events and real life collide.

Earlier this year, 46 Senators voted against legislation that would have protected babies at twenty-weeks old from being killed by abortion. The legislation acknowledged that at twenty weeks, babies are sensitive to stimuli and that many can feel pain.

Planned Parenthood and the normal abortion lobby screamed that this was an ‘attack on women’s health’ and that regardless, it was ‘junk science’ to claim babies can feel pain at twenty weeks.

The same week, I had an appointment with a massage therapist because my pre-born baby was sitting on my sciatic nerve and causing pain. During the therapy, my baby started kicking.

Even with all my training and knowledge from years of pro-life work, what my therapist told me next surprised me: The therapist stopped and said, “Hang on! We gotta calm baby down first.” The therapist then put a warm towel on me to get Baby B to calm down, and within seconds, he could feel the warmth and instantly settled down. The therapist was then able to gently move him without any stress from the baby. Here is why that situation blew my mind. First, my therapist put my baby first, making sure he was calm and relaxed before working on me. But second, my baby could feel the warmth of a towel! WHAT?!

Now think about that– not only was my baby responding to the warmth of the towel, but also the therapist was able to gently push the baby away to help both the baby and me.

It’s insane that in a country like ours — where we have made great strides in protecting free-speech, protecting civil rights, and creating a country that is welcoming to people from all over the world – that we also are one of only seven countries that allow abortion this late in the pregnancy (North Korea and China being two of the other countries).

Consider the fact that surgeons, performing procedures on infants in the womb, routinely use pain medication on infants as young as 16 weeks post-fertilization (18 weeks), meaning that if a baby were getting a surgery even before 20 weeks, he or she would be treated for pain, but in late-term abortion that same baby is doomed to a horrific end. The irony of this is not lost on me as I consider what my own child experienced in the womb during my appointment.

Only 16 states have passed Pain-Capable legislation. My home state of Missouri, is not yet one of them, but fortunately, is working very hard this session to pass this protection for pre-born children. With the state House this week giving the measure initial approval, I hope my legislators will take the commonsense approach of protecting pre-born infants from such a painful procedure that can impact babies so close to birth.

And babies are surviving earlier and earlier when delivered in a pregnancy. As Newsweek noted, a “study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine … looked at nearly 5,000 babies born before 27 weeks of gestation. It found that a significant number of babies who were born at 22 weeks, just over five months of gestation, survived after being medically treated in a hospital.” It’s chilling to think that some fight to end the lives of babies who clearly could survive if left alone.

Such realities have led to a shift in public abortion. A recent Marist poll found that more than 3 out of 4 Americans would limit abortion to the first three months of pregnancy, and more than 6 in 10 would ban abortion after 20 weeks, the measure currently under consideration. Americans, whether pro-life or pro-choice, are troubled by the deaths that infants experience so late in pregnancy and the pain and suffering that women experience as a result of late-term procedures.

I look forward to a day when every child, like mine, is recognized for the dignity and humanity that have imbued in them from the moment of conception. Where all medical professionals take the same care for the pre-born as my massage therapist does. And where we are no longer grouped with some of the worst human rights abusers in regards to our abortion policy.

I know that we will one day make it there.

Reagan Barklage is the Western Regional Director for Students for Life of America, which has more than 1,200 chapters on college and high school campuses nationwide.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.