The House's proposed ban on late-term abortions is justified because fetuses masturbate as early as 15 weeks, proving they experience physical feeling, according to a member of the GOP Doctors Caucus.
Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), a former OB/GYN, suggested Monday that he has witnessed "movements that are purposeful" in fetuses entering the second trimester.
“Watch a sonogram of a 15-week baby," Burgess said. "They stroke their face. If they’re a male baby, they may have their hand between their legs. If they feel pleasure, why is it so hard to believe that they could feel pain?”
Burgess made the comment during debate in the House Rules Committee over Rep. Trent Franks's (R-Ariz.) abortion bill, which is due for a floor vote Tuesday.
The measure would ban nearly all abortions after 22 weeks of pregnancy on the disputed premise that fetuses can feel pain at that stage of development.
According to Burgess, if a fetus entering the second trimester is capable of masturbating, then it's capable of feeling pleasure. Ergo, it's also capable of feeling pain. Therefore, it would be wrong and immoral to subject the fetus to the pain that abortion would cause.
According to research from the Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine, evidence that a fetus is capable of such stimuli is fleeting, at best:
Most endocrinological, behavioral and electrophysiological studies of fetal pain are performed in the third trimester, and they seem to agree that the fetus in the 3rd trimester can experience pain. But the presence of fetal pain in the 2nd trimester is less evident. In favor of a 2nd trimester perception of pain is the early development of spino-thalamic pathways (approximately from the 20th week), and the connections of the thalamus with the subplate (approximately from the 23rd week). Against this possibility, some authors report the immaturity of the cortex with the consequent lack of awareness, and the almost continuous state of sleep of the fetus.
Conclusions: Most studies disclose the possibility of fetal pain in the third trimester of gestation. This evidence becomes weaker before this date, though we cannot exclude its increasing presence since the beginning of the second half of the gestation.
Normally, I'd be surprised that the moral fundamentalists within the GOP aren't calling for fetuses to be fitted with tiny little anti-masturbation devices. But this is different. Convincing the public that fetuses are already going on dates with Rosy Palms is merely a means to an end, with the end being that of abortion. Baby steps, literally.
The bill, officially known as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, passed the House 228-196 but it's destined to die an ignoble death in the Senate. President Obama promises to veto the bill and others like it if they ever come across his desk.
The irony is that while the GOP does all it can to "protect" the life of the unborn, all bets are off once the unborn become born. With massive cuts to federal education funding and the WIC program due to Sequestration and 13 GOP-led states opting out of the Affordable Care Act, seems the GOP has no interest in investing in the future of the already-born, unless there was something in it for them.