I'm not sure how much weight to give an argument that something shouldn't be killed because it can feel pain. After all, no one denies that cows feel pain and I have no problem eating them.
But a judge in New York has decided to allow expert testimony by a pediatrician who says a fetus can feel pain during an abortion. The National Abortion Federation and the ACLU are challenging the recent partial-birth abortion ban Congress passed last year, and the government lawyers defending the law think the testimony is relevant.
A pediatrician who says a fetus can feel pain during an abortion will be allowed to testify in a legal challenge to a new law banning a type of late-term abortion, a judge has ruled. ...
The judge rejected arguments from the National Abortion Federation (news - web sites) that the testimony would be irrelevant and unreliable. ...
The judge said the doctor's testimony will help him assess Congress' findings that the procedure is "brutal and inhumane" and that "the child will fully experience the pain associated with piercing his or her skull and sucking out his or her brain."
I think I agree with the NAF, but the Congressional findings confuse the issue. The real question isn't whether or not the baby can feel pain, but whether or not the baby is a human being with a right to life. If not, then it doesn't matter whether there's pain involved -- we hurt non-human things all the time when it suits our purposes, and most people don't have a problem with that. If the baby is a person then it still doesn't matter because you can't kill people, painlessly or not.
What confuses the issue is Congress' use of the word "inhumane". Treating non-humans in an "inhumane" matter is inconsequential, by definition. So is Congress implying that unborn babies (at least at this stage of life) are human? Apparently so. That seems far more significant than the question of whether or not the baby feels pain.