Countering misinformation:
What do we know about fetal pain?

doctor speaking with patient

Based on the best available scientific evidence, a human fetus probably does not have the functional capacity to experience pain until the 29th week of pregnancy at the earliest. The “Putting Women First” initiative was developed to meet the need for clear information and to disseminate existing scientific evidence to counter the misinformation that exists on fetal pain issues. Materials developed by this project include:


Fact Sheet: 
Fetal Pain, Analgesia, and Anesthesia in the Context of Abortion

Additional resources:


A note on terminology and “late-term abortion”:

The terminology used to discuss abortions after the first trimester varies enormously. There is no agreement in the law or in the medical community about what constitutes the limit of the second trimester, for example. In scholarly journals, these abortions are variously referred to as “mid-trimester abortion,” “second-trimester abortion” (which is used to describe abortions up to 24 weeks or up to 27 weeks, depending on the writer or the state law) and late abortion. Within the mainstream media, the phrase “late-term abortion” is often used in articles about abortion policy and advocacy. These competing terms do not provide accurate clinical descriptions or contribute to public knowledge about abortion care and the differences at various stages of gestation. It is for this reason that we do not use the phrase “late-term abortion” here, and recommend against its use. Instead, we use and recommend the phrase “later abortion” to identify any pregnancy termination after 17 weeks of gestational age.