We've had to get used to hearing really stupid things from right-wing doctors elected to Congress. Whether it's Paul Braun claiming science comes from the pit of hell, Rand and Ron Paul being, well, Paulian, Tom Coburn denying climate change... The list is longer and more shameful. Speaking as a physician, it's embarrassing. But this has to be the stupidest thing I've ever heard from a teabagging elected M.D.:
"Watch a sonogram of a 15-week baby, and they have movements that are purposeful," said Burgess, a former obstetrician-gynecologist. "They stroke their face. If they're a male baby, they may have their hand between their legs. If they feel pleasure, why is it so hard to believe that they could feel pain?"
Now, granted, it's impossible to know for sure what goes on in a hemi-demi-formed 15-week-old brain. But it's not that hard to extrapolate based on actual demonstrable neural pathways, as scientists have done. Applying the word "purposeful" to what are surely, at that stage of development, random movements is pretty much of a stretch. Self-pleasure? Really? It's there at 15 weeks, and then disappears? I mean, has anyone seen a newborn boy deliberately play with himself? Get an erection, sure. It happens. But how long before any newborn can complete any purposeful reaching, let alone give himself a handjob? What unmitigated dumb.
The guy was an obstetrician, ferchrissakes.
These are not normal people. Seriously. I get that people are against abortion, and I see it as a religious position of consistency, and I'd never consider trying to argue against those religious beliefs. (Although it's always been of interest that so many of those who see the life of a blastocyst as equivalent to that of a child are able, somehow, to reconcile that with refusing to pay for food, health care, education, or anything else that suggests valuing life past the moment of birth. And, to be clear, I have most certainly argued that there's a difference between a cluster of cells and a fully-formed baby. But that's also a point of view, subject to religious-based differences of opinion. Still, the imposing of one's religious beliefs on another is just that: imposing.) But to make such patently ridiculous arguments, pretending that it's not a religious argument at all, that not only fly in the face of common sense and observable behavior of infants, but rejects what's known, scientifically (that thing from hell), about fetal neurodevelopment? Who are they trying to kid? Well, of course: these people. Ducks in a barrel.
Same, of course, with the contention that fetuses at that age are capable of feeling pain. Who knows for sure? But what's more likely, actual sensation of pain in a primitive brain, essentially comatose, lacking mature connections between it and the extremities; or the equivalent of spinal cord reflexes, jerking when touched? Like a rubber hammer on your patellar tendon. Has it ever hurt? And yet, did you jerk? C'mon.
My god. This is the best teabaggRs have to offer?