A doctor who performs abortions found himself quizzed by a federal judge about whether a fetus feels pain during a controversial abortion procedure and if the physician worries about that possibility.
The inquiry, at times graphic, came in U.S. District Court on Wednesday after lawyers on both sides had finished questioning Dr. Timothy Johnson, a plaintiff in one of three lawsuits brought to try to stop enforcement of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.
“Does the fetus feel pain?” Judge Richard C. Casey asked Johnson, saying he had been told that studies of a type of abortion usually performed in the second trimester had concluded they do.
Johnson said he did not know, adding he knew of no scientific research on the subject.
The judge then pressed Johnson on whether he ever thought about fetal pain while he performs the abortion procedure that involves dismemberment. Another doctor a day earlier had testified that a fetus sometimes does not immediately die after limbs are pulled off.
“I guess whenever I…” Johnson began before the judge interrupted.
“Simple question, doctor. Does it cross your mind?” Casey pressed.
Johnson said it did not.
“Never crossed your mind?” the judge asked again.
“No,” Johnson answered.
One assumes that helps the good doctor sleep at night.