Monday, 5 November 2007

Sunny Anand

I see Sunny Anand has joined the anti-abortionists in pushing the laughable lie that he has been silenced by the scientific and medical establishment over his 'evidence' that foetuses feel pain at an early age. Here he is in today's Times:
"The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists responded to the Dispatches programme on abortion, stating it was “unaware of the work of Dr Anand”. On October 23 the RCOG received 13 published articles referring to my work on foetal pain; 12 of these were published before the closing date for submissions to the Science and Technology Committee. Yet, it refers only to one article that appeared in October after the deadline.

The RCOG view ignores the development of foetal sensory processing, functional subplate zone (below the cerebral cortex), and sub-cortical mechanisms of consciousness that support foetal memory and learning. Three key flaws beleaguer their scientific rationale to rule out foetal pain.


Secondly, foetal pain does not engage the same structures as those activated by adult pain. The foetus is not a “little adult” — foetal pain is mediated by mechanisms unique from adults. Thirdly, it ignores clinical data that ablation or stimulation of the sensory cortex does not alter adult pain perception, whereas thalamic ablation or stimulation does. The foetal thalamus develops in the second trimester, well before the cortex. If the sensory cortex is not essential for adult pain, why is foetal pain held to that standard?..."

I've dealt with this before but it is worth noting that he is either woefully ignorant of the scientific literature, or being deliberately misleading. Note his claim that "foetal pain is mediated by mechanisms unique from adults" yet he has absolutely no evidence showing this to be the case, and all his work on pain is in the pain felt by newborns, not foetuses at 24 weeks or earlier. He claims that "ablation or stimulation of the sensory cortex does not alter adult pain perception" willfully glossing over the fact that there are plenty of cortical areas where ablation or stimulation will alter pain perception (primary somatosensory cortex is, as the name implies, primarily concerned with the sense of touch rather than pain, and it is stimulation/ablation of this cortex that doesn't alter pain perception much).

There's some coverage of the abortion debate and Anand's role on the Ministry of Truth blog, Anand even makes an appearance.


Anonymous said...

Sunny is far to intelligent to believe that his discoveries will actually have any effect on the UKs abortion law. Why he thinks that foetal pain would factor into a discussion of dismembering babies bodies is a mystery. Its quite clear pain on the side of the baby is little more than collateral damage. Even if Sunny's research was conclusive would we really expect the limit to be lowered due to the baby feeling pain? Ridiculous! We're talking about people who abort babies because they want to. A course of action indicative of infantilism. We're talking about a practice that has been justified supposedly due to "adverse medical effects to the mother"-- 200,000 times a year. Anything less than the RCOG & politicians having some moral awakening means that law isn't going anywhere.

Rebecca said...

Interesting that the Times published that today after posting this yesterday.

Anonymous said...

Heres comedy that should brighten your day:

Alaska Supreme Court calls Parental Consent Act unconstitutional

The Alaska Supreme Court ruled Friday that underage teenage girls can get abortions without parental consent.

The ruling drew praise from Planned Parenthood [-ed. apparently the nations backer of all this opposed to your sworn enemies (ie. Christians)] as well as the ire of some lawmakers and Gov. Sarah Palin, who called the decision "outrageous."

The Alaska Legislature passed the state's Parental Consent Act in 1997, prompting a legal challenge from Planned Parenthood. The law required girls 16 years old and younger to get a parent's permission to receive an abortion.

In Friday's 3-2 vote, the Supreme Court ruled that the law infringes on a pregnant teen's rights to reproductive freedom. The decision backed a Superior Court ruling that found the law unconstitutional.

Anonymous said...

Rebecca, thats an interesting article. I happened to notice this on the same page,

1] Don't Place Babies on Pedestals
2]Survival Rates Still Not Good Enough
3]We will not lower abortion time limit, says minister
4]Political row as MPs reject lower abortion limit"

Heh. That sounds familiar... 'Don't place women on pedestals'... sure does make it a whole lot easier, doesn't it?!

pj said...

"Even if Sunny's research was conclusive..."

But the point is that (a) he has done no original research on this topic, (b) his review article finds no relevant research done by others suggesting that foetuses do feel pain before 24 weeks, and (c) evidence suggests that foetuses are in fact unable to feel pain until after 26 weeks.

Anonymous said...

"...foetuses are in fact unable to feel pain until after 26 weeks."

...and thus is the reason we should raise the abortion time limit.

Anonymous said...

How do you know, in FACT, that fetuses do not feel pain prior to 26 weeks gestation. Just because they may not be able to respond to a painful procedure does not mean they do not feel pain, just may be incapable of showing response due to immaturity, lack of mucle tone, etc. I have actually seen responses from infants less than 26 weeks demonstrate pain during procedures