Sentience – Dr Kawaljeet Anand


Sentience (the point of time at which a fetus can be presumed to feel pain) can advance as medical science develops. At present neocortical activity of the baby can be detected by the 6th week. If so who knows when the baby actually feels pain. Therefore I submit that life should be respected from its very inception

Dr Anand on fetal pain

  • Dr Kanwaljeet Anand, an expert in Pediatric Critical Care Medicine and Anesthesiology, In 2005, he testified before Congress that a fetus as early as 20 weeks would experience abortion as “painful, unpleasant, noxious stimulation.” He argues that while the brain is still developing, the fetus receives pain signals in the subcortex.
  • ablation or stimulation of the sensory cortex does not alter adult pain perception, whereas thalamic ablation or stimulation does. The foetal thalamus develops in the second trimester, well before the cortex. If the sensory cortex is not essential for adult pain, why is foetal pain held to that standard?
  • Fully functioning sensory receptors appear in the skin around the mouth of the fetus at 7 weeks and spread to all skin and mucous surfaces before 20 weeks of gestation. Nerve fibers precede the appearance of these skin receptors and are capable of transmitting sensory stimuli from the periphery to the spinal cord at all times. For entire report by Dr. Kanwaljeet Anand


  • Highest Pain Receptor Density Before Birth
  • Between weeks 20 and 30, an unborn child has more pain receptors per square inch than at any other time, before or
  • after birth, with only a very thin layer of skin for protection.
  • Pain Inhibition Not Fully Developed Until Later
  • Mechanisms that inhibit or moderate the experience of pain do not begin to develop until weeks 30-32. Any pain the unborn child experiences before these mechanisms form is likely worse than the pain an older child or adult experiences

The neural pathways are present for pain to be experienced quite early by unborn babies.
   – Steven Calvin, Perinatologist, University of Minnesota
“At 20 weeks, the fetal brain has the full complement of brain cells present in adulthood, ready and waiting to receive pain signals from the body, and their electrical activity can be be recorded by standard electroencephalography (EEG)” – Dr. Paul Ranalli, neurologist, University of Toronto

Scientific evidence suggests abortion is excruciatingly painful for the unborn child.

An unborn child at 20 weeks gestation “is fully capable of experiencing pain… Without question, [abortion]is a dreadfully painful experience for any infant subjected to such a surgical procedure.    – Robert J. White, MD., Ph.D. professor of neurosurgery, Case Western R eserve University


Fetus 18 days – – Brain

  • The brain begins to take shape
  • only 18 days after conception. By
  • 20 days, the brain has already
  • differentiated into forebrain,
  • midbrain, and hind brain, and the
  • spinal cord has started to
  • (1)


Fetus 5 weeks Pain Receptors

  • Four or five weeks after
  • conception, pain receptors appear
  • around the mouth, followed by
  • nerve fibers, which carry stimuli
  • to the brain. By 18 weeks, pain
  • receptors have appeared
  • throughout the body. Around
  • week 6, the unborn child first
  • responds to touch.(2, 3)


Fetus 6 weeks – Cortex

  • In weeks 6-18, the cerebral cortex
  • By 18 weeks the cortex
  • has a full complement of neurons.
  • In adults, the cortex has been
  • recognized as the center of pain
  • (3)


Fetus 8 weeks – Thalamus

  • During weeks 8-16, the
  • thalamus develop s, functioning as
  • the main relay center in the brain
  • for sensory impulses going from
  • the spinal cord to the cortex.(1)



Fetus 14-18 weeks – 14-18 Wks – Nerve Tracts

  • In week 18, nerve tracts
  • connecting the spinal cord and the
  • thalamus are established, and
  • nerves from the thalamus first
  • contact the cortex in week 20.
  • Nerve fibers not routed through
  • the thalamus have already reached
  • the cortex by 14 weeks. (3,4)

Fetus 18 weeks – 18 Wks – Stress Hormones

  • As early as 18 weeks, stress
  • hormones are released by an unborn
  • child injected by a needle, just as they
  • are when adults feel pain. Hormone
  • levels in those babies decrease as
  • pain-relievers are supplied.(7)


Fetus Pain – Before 18 Weeks?

  • Even before nerve tract s are
  • fully established, the unborn child
  • may feel pain; studies show
  • anencephalic infants, whose cortex
  • is severely reduced if not altogether
  • missing, may experience pain as
  • long as other neurological
  • structures are functioning



The patient who would ask for a lethal remedy for pain is not in his right mind, and any right thinking doctor ought to relieve the patient and counsel him. If we give into Dr. Kevorkion philosophy, others may claim their mental pain is unbearable and ask for a lethal remedy. Legalizing abortion is the gateway to infanticide and euthanasia, The legitimized way to prevent the unwanted child is to not conceive. One has to take responsibility from that initial decision which inevitably leads to creation of life. After a moment’s pleasure (that affects a whole life time ) to claim that the resulting child is unwanted, is a dangerous philosophy. Some refer to a common law that recognised fetal age of 18 months as the point of sentience, before which abortion was considered legitimate, one must emphasize that no such common law was recognized till the dawn of the 20th century. Roe vs.Wade decision opened the door wide for abortion. Prof. A. W. Liley, Research Professor. in Fetal Physiology in Auckland , New Zealand , is known as the “Father of Fetology.” As an internationally recognized researcher on life before birth, Dr. Liley pioneered the first successful treatment of the unborn child: the intrauterine blood transfusion. His intimate knowledge of unborn patients had led him to oppose abortion and to make the following comments: •  In a world in which adults control power and purse, the fetus is at a disadvantage being small, naked, nameless and voiceless. He has no one except sympathetic adults to speak up for him and defend him.

  • Biologically, at no stage can we subscribe to the view that the fetus is a mere appendage of the mother. Genetically, mother and baby are separate individuals from conception. Physiologically, we must accept that the conceptus is, in a very large measure, in change of the pregnancy. •  It is the embryo who stops his mother’s periods and makes her womb habitably by developing a placenta and a protective capsule of fluid for himself. He regulates his own amniotic fluid volume and although women speak of their waters breaking or their membranes rupturing, these structures belong to the fetus. And finally, it is the fetus, not the mother, who decides when labor should be initiated. •  This, then, is the fetus we know and indeed once were. This is also the fetus whose existence and identity must be callously ignored or energetically denied by advocates of abortion. (Garton: Who Broke the Baby. P41)

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Profile Dr Lalith Mendis Dr Lalith Mendis topped his batch on his graduation from Colombo Medical Faculty in 1976. He won the coveted Final MBBS top student’s Herath Guneratne memorial Prize & gold medal, Prof Rajasuriya Clinical Medicine Prize, Pharmacology Medal, Pathology Medal. He passed the MRCP (Part 1) in 1978. He was Clinical Registrar, Dept of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine (1979 – 1980) & moved to Pharmacology. He won the Commonwealth Scholarship in 1979. His last academic post was as Lecturer in charge Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, Kelaniya (1993 – 1999). Dr Lalith Mendis is the Founder Director of the Empathic Learning Centre, He has researched the effect of digital overuse on children & youth and developed empathic therapies to reverse inattention, impulsivity & hyperactivity. Dr Mendis hosts the monthly Digital Forum at his centre and has delivered lectures & conducted seminars on this theme in leading schools & Corporates in Colombo. He has also lectured in Germany, Malaysia & UK. Author of five books on the topic, his books Right Learning & Recovering Childhood, Children Our Heritage & Let the Children Come to Me are in their second print. His books are available from all major bookstores in Colombo. His latest book “Parenting Heart & Brain - in an age of digital domination” has a preface from the former Dean of the Medical faculty of Colombo. “I have been seeing children affected by too much cartoon abuse. This is not about ADHD but normal children with agitation & hyperactivity & inattention in studies”.

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