Republican Platform Makes False Claim That Fetuses Feel Pain
The claim in the GOP platform is medically unsupported.
The platform calls for legislation “to protect from abortion unborn children who are capable of feeling pain” and “applaud[s] U.S. House Republicans for leading the effort to protect the lives of pain-capable unborn children in the District of Columbia.”
The District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, authored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on the claim that fetuses can feel pain at that point. Several states, including Nebraska, have passed similar so-called “fetal pain bills.”
In fact, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists takes the position that there is no legitimate scientific information that supports the statement that a fetus experiences pain. A 2011 study in the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics found no conclusive evidence that fetuses feel pain or are viable at 20 weeks, and a 2005 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that fetuses are likely incapable of feeling pain until the third trimester.