Question: Does (a) baby feel physical pain during (an) abortion?
Higgins: The short answer is sometimes the developing embryo/fetus/baby feels pain during the abortion. Whether pain is felt depends on a couple of things. First, the embryo must be far enough along to have a nervous system. The farther along the development of the fetus the better developed the nervous system is thus the more likely the fetus will be able to feel pain.
The second part of feeling pain is consciousness. The body itself can feel pain but if there is no consciousness to acknowledge it then it isn’t the sort of pain you feel. (Although if there was consciousness to acknowledge it, it would be.)
The soul may enter the embryo/fetus at anytime. Many enter at some point prior to birth. Many also choose to wait until the moment of birth.
What the fetus is likely to acknowledge (whether consciousness has entered it or not) is fear and confusion. In the same way that a fresh egg exhibits fear when it is about to be eaten or a tree that is being cut down may feel fear, the fetus will have some kind of awareness and subsequent reaction.
Perhaps it will help your understanding to know that the body is a separate entity. The soul inhabits the body the way you live in a house or apartment. Although the body does exhibit preference with or without the soul, the soul applies ‘feels good’ or ‘feels bad’ to the body that simply feels.
Let us acknowledge that this explanation is imperfect but as close as we can get.
Received March 28, 2017