The folks who told us that Terri Schiavo was so following that balloon with her eyes may be wrong again:
... a team of doctors has concluded that fetuses probably cannot feel pain in the first six months of gestation and therefore do not need anesthesia during abortions.
Their report, being published Wednesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association, is based on a review of several hundred scientific papers, and it says that nerve connections in the brain are unlikely to have developed enough for the fetus to feel pain before 29 weeks.
...Bills requiring that women be warned about fetal pain have been introduced in the House and Senate and in 19 states, and recently passed in Georgia, Arkansas and Minnesota....
(To be fair, some scientists and doctors, including some who are pro-choice, don't think this is the last word on the subject.)
Advocates of the proposed federal legislation will, needless to say, not be withdrawing it. It requires doctors to tell women seeking abortions,
"The Congress of the United States has determined that at this stage of development, an unborn child has the physical structures necessary to experience pain."
Because, after all, when you want reliable medical advice, isn't your first choice to turn to ... Congress?
Meanwhile, remember this story from yesterday?
Scientists for the first time have turned ordinary skin cells into what appear to be embryonic stem cells -- without having to use human eggs or make new human embryos in the process, as has always been required in the past, a Harvard research team announced yesterday.
The technique uses laboratory-grown human embryonic stem cells -- such as the ones that President Bush has already approved for use by federally funded researchers -- to "reprogram" the genes in a person's skin cell, turning that skin cell into an embryonic stem cell itself.
... if further studies confirm its usefulness, it could offer an end run around the heated social and religious debate that has for years overshadowed the field of human embryonic stem cell research....
An end run around the religious debate? Er, not quite:
If Harvard researchers who created embryonic stem cells without destroying embryos hoped to defuse some of the ethical controversies surrounding stem cell research, they did not succeed.
Catholic leaders said Monday they remain opposed to any research that uses embryonic cells, whether or not they come from cell lines approved for research by President Bush.
"It's still creating and destroying life for the purposes of research," said Marie Hilliard, executive director of the Connecticut Catholic Conference, the public policy office of the state's Catholic bishops. "Using parts of a person that has already been killed is a process that dehumanizes us all." ...
I wonder when religious conservatives, or at least Catholic religious conservatives, are going to start demanding that all fertility clinics be closed. The day can't be too far off.