A new study found that unborn babies may start to develop memories as early as thirty weeks into a pregnancy, but ABC's “Good Morning America” ignored the study's potential impact on the abortion debate, especially concerning late term abortion.
Reporter Sharyn Alfonsi's July 15 segment covered the pivotal study without even mentioning abortion. Anchor Chris Cuomo attempted to broach the issue during a follow-up interview but fell short.
Alfonsi touted the study, “Day by day, a fetus goes through remarkable changes. By 30 weeks, opening and closing their eyes. Making facial expressions. And now, a new study reveals, forming memories. Yep, barely three pounds, but already able to remember. For the study, researchers used a fetal monitor to make a buzzing sound against a mother's belly. The noise and vibrations startle the fetus and it typically reacts by moving. But with repeated applications of the buzzing the fetus learns its okay and does not have to react. And four weeks later, when the fetus is buzzed again, many don't react at all, because researchers say they now remember the sound.”
During an interview with child psychologist Rahil Briggs, Cuomo somewhat obliquely approached the findings' implications for the abortion debate. He said, “And, you know, it seems like the more we learn about fetuses, the more confidence we have that they are capable of things earlier and earlier. You know, when life, when sustainable life, begins is a big question in our society. This sheds light on it.”
Rahil, however, disagreed- or didn't want to address “sustainable life”- and stated, “I'm not sure that it sheds light on when sustainable life begins. What this study says is that starting at around 30 weeks gestational age, so in that last trimester, we're pretty sure that kids are laying down short-term memories and might even have a little bit longer term memories.”
Left unsaid – what do the findings mean within the context of late-term abortion? According to the Family Research Council , “late-term” refers to abortions occurring during the 28th through 39th weeks of pregnancy, or the third trimester. In 2005 over 15,000 abortions occurred past the 20-week mark in the pregnancy.
So if the study is correct, in many of those cases, the babies aborted were developed enough to have short- and perhaps long-term memory.
The memory study, Alfonsi said, “… is proof that we need to be more careful about what experiences we expose babies to in the womb.” Like the experience of, say, murder?