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Tuesday 22nd May 2018

Foetal scans cause debate

3rd October 2006

03102006_foetus1.jpgScientists and doctors have said that 4-D ultrasound scans that show foetuses appearing to “walk� in the womb as early as 12 weeks gestation have had a dangerous impact on the public debate over abortion.

According to experts on foetal development the four-dimensional imaging technique means that people have a misleading impression that foetuses become viable and self-aware at a much earlier stage than is the case in reality, and has re-fuelled the abortion debate over the last two years.

The technique was developed by Stuart Campbell, of the Create Health Clinic in London, and show pictures of foetuses of 12 weeks’ gestation, bouncing and kicking in the womb. Anti-abortion campaigners used the images to demand a reduction in the time limit on terminations; the present abortion limit is 24 weeks of pregnancy, except in the case of severe foetal abnormalities or danger to maternal health.

Researchers and doctors have now said that the images have confused the public about the reality of foetal development. Donald Peebles, of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at University College London, said that although the foetus clearly looks human by 12 weeks, proper sensory development takes place much later.

Huseyin Mehmet, Reader in Developmental Neurobiology at Imperial College London, said that “Personification of the foetus at that age is dangerous." 

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Article Information

Title: Foetal scans cause debate
Author: Sue Knights
Article Id: 850
Date Added: 3rd Oct 2006


The Times

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