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InvisibleEvolving
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Registered: 10/01/02
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Foetuses 'may be conscious long before abortion limit'
    #1362026 - 03/10/03 07:02 AM (14 years, 1 month ago)

Foetuses 'may be conscious long before abortion limit'
By David Derbyshire, Science Correspondent
(from telegraph.co.uk Filed: 10/03/2003)


Foetuses may develop consciousness long before the legal age limit for abortions, one of Britain's leading brain scientists has said.

Baroness Greenfield, a professor of neurology at Oxford University and the director of the Royal Institution, said there was evidence to suggest the conscious mind could develop before 24 weeks, the upper age where terminations are permitted.

Although she fell short of calling for changes in the abortion laws, she urged doctors and society to be cautious when assuming unborn babies lacked consciousness. "Is the foetus conscious? The answer is yes, but up to a point," she said.

"Given that we can't prove consciousness or not, we should be very cautious about being too gung ho and assuming something is not conscious. We should err on the side of caution."

Last year, a Daily Telegraph straw poll found many neurologists were concerned that foetuses could feel pain in the womb before 24 weeks after conception.

Many believed foetuses should be given anaesthetics during a late abortion, after 20 weeks. Some also believe pain relief should be given for keyhole surgery in the womb.

Abortions are allowed up to 24 weeks in Britain, but are rarely given so late. Around 90 per cent of the 175,000 planned terminations that take place each year in England and Wales are in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Around 1.5 per cent - or 2,600 - take place after the 20th week.

Terminations after 24 weeks are only allowed in exceptional circumstances if, for instance, the mother's life is threatened.

Lady Greenfield is sceptical of philosophers and doctors who argue that consciousness is "switched on" at some point during the brain's development.

She believes instead that there is a sliding scale of consciousness and that it develops gradually as neurons, or brain cells, make more and more connections with each other.

She told the British Fertility Society in London last week that she had serious concerns about foetal consciousness.

"The Home Office has legislation that applies to a mammal and they have now extended it to the octopus, a mollusc, because it can learn," she said. "If a mollusc can be attributed with being sentient, and now has Home Office protection, then my own view is that we should be very cautious after making assumptions."

In 2001 a Medical Research Council expert group said unborn babies might feel pain as early as 20 weeks and almost certainly by 24. They called for more sensitive treatment of very premature babies, who often had to undergo painful procedures like heel pricks and injections.


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To call humans 'rational beings' does injustice to the term, 'rational.'  Humans are capable of rational thought, but it is not their essence.  Humans are animals, beasts with complex brains.  Humans, more often than not, utilize their cerebrum to rationalize what their primal instincts, their preconceived notions, and their emotional desires have presented as goals - humans are rationalizing beings.


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InvisibleTeragon
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Registered: 02/21/01
Posts: 36,253
Loc: Lost in the Patterns
Re: Foetuses 'may be conscious long before abortion limit' [Re: Evolving]
    #1366183 - 03/11/03 02:12 PM (14 years, 1 month ago)

Try seven weeks...formation of the pineal gland. Not much time left now eh?


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InvisibleShroomismM
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Re: Foetuses 'may be conscious long before abortion limit' [Re: Evolving]
    #1366692 - 03/11/03 05:22 PM (14 years, 1 month ago)

According to certain 'friends' of mine.. the soul enters into the fetus 21 days after conception.


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OfflineEvilGir
Im the on coming storm

Registered: 11/26/01
Posts: 1,301
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Re: Foetuses 'may be conscious long before abortion limit' [Re: Shroomism]
    #1367517 - 03/12/03 12:56 AM (14 years, 1 month ago)

Try adding another 21 days. Cos its re-encarnation 42 days after death.


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Fighting the man the best way I can.


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InvisibleEvolving
Resident Cynic

Registered: 10/01/02
Posts: 5,385
Loc: Apt #6, The Village
Re: Foetuses 'may be conscious long before abortion limit' [Re: Shroomism]
    #1367713 - 03/12/03 03:50 AM (14 years, 1 month ago)

This of course raises certain moral concerns, but seeing as this is the Science and Technology Forum I have until this point, refrained from bringing that related issue up. Do your friends give any indication as to when they consider a fetus a person? Is that unrelated to the issue of consciousness and soul?


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To call humans 'rational beings' does injustice to the term, 'rational.'  Humans are capable of rational thought, but it is not their essence.  Humans are animals, beasts with complex brains.  Humans, more often than not, utilize their cerebrum to rationalize what their primal instincts, their preconceived notions, and their emotional desires have presented as goals - humans are rationalizing beings.


Edited by Evolving (03/12/03 03:53 AM)


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InvisibleShroomismM
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Re: Foetuses 'may be conscious long before abortion limit' [Re: Evolving]
    #1367750 - 03/12/03 04:16 AM (14 years, 1 month ago)

I myself, personally, would consider a fetus to be a person when the soul enters. Of course this 21 days after conception thing cannot be verified just yet. As to when the fetus gains consciousness...that may be another matter altogether. No one can really say for sure, but if we had solid evidence that spiritual entity entered the body after 21 days, and the technology to be able to know the day of conception.. 21 days is plenty of a window for abortion of a 'soulless fetus'. I think abortion is wrong is the spirit has entered the body.


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