It is interesting to raise the question of ‘when does ‘it’ ‘become’ a baby? I know that when I do presentations around the country, many people know very little about early human development and may wonder the same things.
One of the most amazing things about our early human development is that once conception has taken place, that is the uniting of the male sperm and female ovum, the new entity immediately has its own unique DNA. If you’ve ever watched crime shows on television, you will know that it is DNA that often incriminates the guilty party. That’s because every person ever born, or not born, has their own very unique DNA, which is the basic cellular information of who we are. Our DNA holds the key to what colour our eyes will be, how prone we are to sunburn, how tall we could grow, even what our temperament may be like. There are other factors which influence our development, such as our nutrition, and our environment, but the basic blueprint is all there…. right from the very beginning.
All this new life needs, after conception, is time and safety to grow, not only until birth, but afterwards until independence. A newborn baby is as helpless without care and nurture as the unborn baby is.
Of course the same applies to any new life, whether created in the body of a woman, or in a laboratory. So where do we draw the line about when it is ‘okay’ to have an abortion or to kill a human life?
Some ‘ethicists’ argue that we should be able to dispose of our children up to the age of 2 or 3 years. After all, we don’t really know much about the people they will become until then… we might need this amount of time to make up our minds. Don’t like that idea? How about by their first birthday then? Make sure the child is developmentally okay, reaching all the right milestones so that we won’t have to deal with any kind of obvious mental disability? Still not okay?
What is wrong with waiting until after the baby is born then? We can make sure that it has all the right body parts in the right places before we decide. Sound a bit much? The decriminalisation of abortion aims to ensure that women can terminate their pregnancies right up to birth. So would the day before the baby is due to be born be easier to live with? If not, what about at 20 weeks, when it looks like a baby, kicks like a baby, sucks it’s thumb like a baby, but couldn’t survive if born at this age?
We know that the heart of an unborn baby is fully formed and functioning only 29 days after conception. So if the heartbeat being present is your cut off point, then we’re in trouble as well, as the Australian Medical Association recommends against doing a surgical abortion before 7 weeks as the baby is so small it may be ‘missed’.
When you start to ask the questions in this way, you have to consider if there is any ‘okay’ age to terminate a human life. We also need to ask ourselves when pregnancy became such a tragedy or such a ‘disease’ that we hardened ourselves to what abortion really means..
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