Babies feel pain before 24 week abortion limit

Unborn babies can experience pain before the upper age limit for abortion, a world expert in foetal pain will tell MPs.

Professor Sunny Anand, from the University of Arkansas, will address MPs at a discussion group on abortion on Monday, 28 January 2008.

The meeting has been organised ahead of expected attempts to change the law on abortion when the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill comes before the Commons.

While the Labour Party is expected to allow a free vote on abortion issues, some cabinet ministers have called for a free vote on other controversial measures in the Bill.

Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly and Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy have expressed ethical concerns about certain measures involving embryo research and cloning.

MPs heard evidence on abortion last year, when the Commons Science and Technology Select Committee investigated the issue.

But evidence given on the ability of babies to experience pain inside the womb was inaccurate, says Professor Anand, a world authority on the subject.

“I believe the RCOG [Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynacologists] deliberately withheld relevant and scholarly research on this issue,” he said.

Professor Anand will address MPs at a meeting organised by Conservative MP Nadine Dorries, one of the MPs who attacked the conclusions of the Select Committee last year.

“It is no secret that I was extremely unhappy with the Science and Technology Committee report into reducing the upper time limit”, Mrs Dorries said, “not least because the overwhelming majority of people called to give evidence were from the pro-abortion lobby and pro-abortion MPs on the committee influenced the outcome of the report.”

MPs will also hear from Professor Stuart Campbell, pioneer of the 4D screening technique which produces clear images of babies ‘yawning’ and ‘dancing’ in the womb.

Mrs Dorries said: “The purpose of the discussion is to give people like Prof Anand, whose research was disregarded by the committee, a platform from which they can present the other side of the argument to MPs, the press, and the rest of society, including the 72 per cent of the general public who agree that 24 weeks is too late.”

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