Medical/Scientific Proof that an Unborn Child is Human
1. At the moment of conception the sperm fertilizes the egg, and a dramatic and instantaneous change occurs. These two cells form a new cell, which has a genetic uniqueness, completeness and wholeness as a one-celled zygote. Such a zygote formed at conception has all the genetic identity and programming to mature into an embryo, a fetus, a baby, a child, a teenager, an adult. The one-celled zygote is fully human life.
2. The embryo is genetically distinct from its mother. It has 46 chromosomes, its own DNA, and is kept separate from its mother’s system by the placenta. Thus, the baby is clearly not just a part of the mother’s body. It’s not independent of the mother, but it’s not the mother.
3. The heart of the baby is formed and operational very early in pregnancy, around the 20th day. Brain waves begin around the fortieth day. Heartbeat and brain activity are signs of independent life. All biological human functions are present by 12 weeks. The slogan “Abortion stops a beating heart” is true in most cases.
4. It’s clear that the baby is able to sense pain very early on in its life. It is able to react to various stimuli, such as sound, movement and temperature. Nothing magic occurs at birth which suddenly makes an unborn baby human. The baby is the same baby, whether inside or outside the uterus. Every unborn baby is a complete, individual, living human being from the earliest moment of his or her existence at fertilization. Whether or not the baby is able to sense pain or is dependent on the mother does not matter. An unborn child is distinct from its mother and is a fully human being who deserves the full protection of the law.
Medical science keeps pushing back the time of viability, i.e., when a baby can survive outside the mother’s womb. If killing a born, pre-mature baby is murder, then killing one of the same age, but still within the mother’s womb, is no less murder.
Currently, the edge of viability is at about 19 weeks after fertilization, and babies born at 22-23 weeks commonly survive (36 weeks is the normal gestation period). At 11 weeks, all organ systems are functioning. The baby could stand on an adult’s
fingernail. The baby even has eyelids, nails, and fingerprints. The baby has a skeletal structure, nerves, and circulation. From this age on, there is only growth in size and maturation of the organs already present. From a biological point of view, there is little difference between an unborn fetus and a born infant. If killing a child after birth is immoral, killing one a few weeks or months prior to birth is equally immoral.
Quality of Life vs. Value of Life
Since one cannot deny the biological data supporting the human life of an unborn child, abortion proponents have shifted the argument to the value of life rather than the presence of it. If an unwanted child would have a negative impact on the quality of the mother’s life, she should abort the child. If the child will be a financial or emotional drain on the parents, they should abort it. If the child will have physical or mental problems, abort it. Individual self-interest demands that unwanted babies be done away with. “Morality” for abortion supporters consists of giving women the freedom to abort their children if they so desire. Taking away this right to “self-determination” is immoral. They consider access to abortion a “basic human right.” The availability of safe and legal abortions is a sign of a mature civilization, they contend.
Biblical ethics demands that all humans hold value. From the very young to the very old, all humans share the image of God and possess the rights common to all people. Once someone tries to determine what lives are “valuable” and what lives are not, humanity starts sliding toward barbarism. Any scheme that attempts to define “worthwhile” or “useful” life may easily exclude the unborn, blacks, Jews, gypsies, the handicapped, mentally ill, infirm aged, or whoever those in political power decide do not meet their standards for human personhood. It’s happened many times historically, and abortion proponents want to continue the practice. The weak and handicapped need special help and attention, not destruction. Further, no one has the right to murder anyone else. Taking away a woman’s ability to legally kill her child is not immoral. Society should protect and nurture the innocent, not allow them to be flushed down the toilet.
Conclusion: According to the biblical evidence, God recognizes the humanity of a child long before its birth. Unborn children, at whatever stage of development, are individual persons with all the rights afforded to other humans. Because an unborn child is in the image of God, we must acknowledge the sanctity of his life. Medically speaking, the unborn child is just as human as a born child is. Therefore abortion is the taking of human life, and is condemned as the sin of murder. Abortion is not the answer to the problem of unwanted pregnancies. Human life is a gift from God, and its origin in biological terms reflects the order of creation. Specifically, at the point of conception the one-celled human zygote is a person in the fullest theological sense, an image-bearer of God deserving the same respect and protection that we as Christians afford all human beings.
How should Christians act?
- Support Christians that take action against it – Abort 97.
- Oppose ‘pro-choice’ rhetoric with the Christian alternative.
- Volunteer with crisis-pregnancy clinics
- Support adoption and those who adopt.
- Vote for political parties that oppose abortion.
*Material adapted from Brad Anderson*
– David De Bruyn, Professor of Church History, Shepherds’ Seminary Africa