Friday, September 5, 2008

SPUC Conference begins

SPUC's annual conference opened this evening with a superb presentation on foetal sentience by Jeronima Teixeira, professor and consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. She presented her groundbreaking research into foetal sentience, specifically the capacity of the unborn baby to experience pain. Her research is the first of its kind and provides compelling evidence that the unborn baby is capable of feeling pain from as early as six weeks gestation.

A renowned expert in foetal medicine, Professor Teixeira has also published on the impact of maternal anxiety on foetal development.

One of the most chilling comments she made during her presentation was that in the UK animal foetuses enjoy better legal protection than unborn children. It was easier for her team to gain permission to conduct research on unborn children (as part of legitimate medical treatment) than to gain permission to experiment on animal foetuses, so much so that her team had to conduct its animal research in Australia. She made the point that animals are by definition not conscious and yet enjoy protection. On the other hand, consciousness is often used as a justification for offering no protection to unborn children. It says a great deal about the sort of country Britain has become that animals are more valued than unborn children.