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Friday, August 30, 2013

Pro-Life 101: "It's Not Human"

*This is the second installment in a series of posts on pro-life apologetics based on the “When They Say, You Say” talks developed by Olivia Gans Turner and Mary Spaulding Balch. If you missed the first one, catch up here.

Did you know that most pro-abortion arguments fall into one of five categories? Over the next several weeks, we will be taking you through each argument and presenting some practical tips for responding well. Whether you’re a seasoned member of the pro-life movement or just a rookie, you’ll find something worth reading!

One of the arguments we hear is that an unborn child is not a human being. This may come up in one of several ways, such as, “It’s just a blob of cells,” “The fetus is only a potential human being,” and “It’s not a person; it has no meaningful life.” Thanks to modern technology, though, not only is this particular attack losing credence, it’s also easy to disprove. Let’s start with some basic facts about fetal development.

Not human? Really?!
Science tells us that from the moment of fertilization, a genetically complete, unique, individual human person exists. Although the baby may look like a clump of cells during his first few days of life, he is not just a “potential life,” he is a life! His DNA contains all the same information it will always have throughout his life. Sex, eye color, height, and his grandpa’s nose are already present; all he needs is time to grow and develop these features.

After about a week, the unborn child, now in the embryo stage, has implanted in the uterus. By the time he is 18 days old, he already has a beating heart and a visible spinal cord. His growth is rapid and almost miraculous. Within just a few weeks, he will have all the body parts he will have as an adult. In six weeks, the unborn child has grown from a single-celled person into a person with definable features and every organ system in place.

Just as an infant does not look exactly like the adult he will become, so an embryo in the early stages of development does not look exactly the way he will at birth. Who are we to say that his life is without meaning? Arguably, the infant needs as much or more care than the unborn child because both are entirely reliant upon outside help in order to survive, but there are few people who advocate for infanticide (sadly, we can no longer say that “no one” advocates for infanticide). We cannot judge a life’s worth based on arbitrary standards of quality or care; rather, we must give each life the same objective value, based simply on its merit as human life.  

It’s important to remember that the vast majority of abortions take place between the seventh and twelfth week of pregnancy—long after the babies have beating hearts and detectable brainwaves. These facts might anger some people, but you can be confident in the knowledge that what you are speaking is true and has nothing to do with opinion, ideology, or religion. “Don’t force your religion on me” falls under this category of argument because it has the same answer: No matter what you believe about the existence of God, it’s indisputable science that at fertilization, a new life comes into existence.

One of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal is the ultrasound image. Within the last several decades, the use of the ultrasound has gone from nonexistent to routine practice. As technology improves, so do the images of the unborn children. Today’s pregnant mamas can take home 4D ultrasound videos of their babies yawning, stretching, and sucking their thumbs! This is one reason why it is so important that all pregnant mothers have the chance to view an ultrasound of their baby. In your own conversations, have an ultrasound image or fetal model available to show people. “A picture is worth a thousand words,” and although your picture and words may not change minds, they may plant seeds in peoples’ hearts. 

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