Michael Burgess's remarks, in which he suggests 15-week old foetuses can feel both "pleasure" and pain, were made in Congress on Monday as the House debates a legislative ban on all abortions after 20 weeks.
The bill, called The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, is scheduled for a vote on Wednesday.
The former obstetrician/ gynaecologist said in comments first reported by Reality Check: “This is a subject I do know something about.
“There is no question in my mind that a baby at 20 weeks after conception can feel pain. The fact of the matter is, I argue with the chairman because I thought the date was far too late. We should be setting this at 15 weeks, 16 weeks.
“Watch a sonogram of a 15-week baby, and they have movements that are purposeful.
“They stroke their face. If they’re a male baby, they may have their hand between their legs. If they feel pleasure, why is it so hard to think that they could feel pain?”
Burgess’s 25-year medical career is listed on the GOP Doctors Caucus website.
While Burgess’s claims are unsubstantiated, The Atlantic has dug up reports dating from 1996, in which two Italian doctors witnessed what they believed was a female foetus masturbating for 20 minutes.
But it points out that foetus, as well as being female was 32 weeks and not 15 weeks.