Right now one of the big stories in Europe is about the move against shechitah by the animal rights crowd. As of this writing Holland and the United Kingdom have moved towards demanding that all animals slaughtered under their aegis first be stunned. At this time they are still allowing shechitah but only if the meat packages are clearly labelled that the animals were not stunned before being slaughtered.
Naturally the big problem with this is that animals are not allowed to be stunned before being slaughtered al pi normative halacha. Yes, I know there's the famous (and really, really long) responsa of the Seridei Eish, zt"l but no one holds by that. Even he didn't. So what to do to get around this if the next step is simply to ban all unstunned meat?
So right now I'm learning through hilchos shechitah in the Aruch HaShulchan and an idea occurred to me.
See, there's this thing called the bein paku'ah. If a mother animal that is full-term pregnant is slaughtered, the foetus inside, the ubar, does not require shechitah according to Torah law because it's considered sachut agav imo, pre-slaughtered by virtue of its mother having been properly slaughtered.
The ben paku'ah has other special rules. By gezeirah it does have to be slaughtered properly because of maaris ayin, to prevent folks from thinking that it's okay to not properly slaughter an animal. However, it still has it's already-slaughtered status because if you mate one with a normal animal, the offspring are forbidden to undergo shechitah because they're considered already half-slaughtered by virtue of the ben pakuah parent and you can't half-shecht an animal. If you mate one ben pakuah with another one, however, all its offspring are automatically considered pre-slaughtered just like the parents.
So here's my thought: yes, there is a gezeirah to shecht the animal because of how it looks. However, according to Torah law you don't have to and you could even stun the animal before killing it. Can a ben pakuah be stunned before slaughter? Do we say that since the need to shecht it is a gezeirah and we generally don't make a gezeirah to another that stunning should therefore be allowed before slaughter? Or do we say that the underlying reason for requiring the animal to be ritually slaughtered, maaris ayin, applies to all activities around the killing of the animal equally and therefore just as shechitah is requiring, so too stunning is forbidden?
Because if it's the former, it would only take a few years and some good timing but entire herds of bnei pakuah could probably be bred in special locations. If stunning is allowed, that might help get around the seemingly inevitable ban coming in Europe.
Does anyone have an answer?