Watching the TV show Private Practice last night, I saw a physician who performs abortions state that life doesn't begin (i.e. a fetus is not a person) until is can survive independently outside the mother's womb. At birth. Before then, it is not a life nor a person and therefore shall have no legal protection or rights.
In other words, integral to the definition of life (or a person) is degree of dependence. That's a scary proposition, which could be a threat not just to newborns but also to people in hospital rooms and ICUs. Those who, by some person's definition, doesn't have a life.
A lot of silly stuff like this gets said to justify abortion, and one of the silliest and most dangerous is the idea that you're not fully a person when you depend to one degree or another on another person for your life.
This isn't a matter of God, or religion, white suburban mores, feminism, male chauvinism,or right-wing-nutism. It is a matter of a life that at some point during pregnancy becomes a person, and whose unalienable right to life needs to be balanced with a woman's right to choose.
The science of it is shown below. These are the stages of fetal development, taken from the
(not a pro-life group). There you will see a person in development, something that should--if you have any sense of compassion or intelligence--reveal itself not just as a lump of cells, but as a picture of you and me.
There is no qualitative change to the fetus at birth. It doesn't develop its own DNA then; that happens at conception. It doesn't lose its dependence on its mother then (do any of us really do?). To say that it is not a person ever in utero is the most basic denial of human instincts. And a sad tragedy for those who cannot see beyond their selfishness or their ideology. For them, we should feel shame and sorrow.
The Baby at 4 Weeks
- Your baby's brain and spinal cord have begun to form.
- The heart begins to form.
- Arm and leg buds appear.
- Your baby is now an embryo and 1/25 of an inch long.
The Baby at 8 Weeks
- ll major organs and external body structures have begun to form.
- Your baby's heart beats with a regular rhythm.
- The arms and legs grow longer, and fingers and toes have begun to form.
- The sex organs begin to form.
- The eyes have moved forward on the face and eyelids have formed.
- The umbilical cord is clearly visible.
the end of 8 weeks, your baby is a fetus and looks more like a human.
Your baby is nearly 1 inch long and weighs less than 1/8 of an ounce.
Fetal development at 16 weeks
The fetus now measures about 4.3 to 4.6 inches and weighs about 2.8 ounces. The top of your uterus should be felt about three inches below your belly button. The baby's eyes can blink and the heart and blood vessels are fully formed. The baby's fingers and toes should have fingerprints.
Fetal development at 20 weeks
The baby weighs about 9 ounces and is about six inches long. The uterus should be at the level of the belly button. The baby can suck a thumb, yawn, stretch, and make faces. Soon -- if you haven't already -- you'll feel your baby move, which is called "quickening."
Time for an Ultrasound
An ultrasound is generally performed for all pregnant women at 20 weeks of gestation. During this ultrasound, the doctor will confirm that the placenta is healthy and attached normally and that your baby is growing properly in the uterus. The baby's heartbeat and movement of its body, arms, and legs can also be seen on the ultrasound. The gender of the baby can usually be determined at 20 weeks.
Fetal development at 24 weeks
The fetus weighs about 1.4 pounds now. It responds to sounds by moving or increasing its pulse. You may notice jerking motions if it hiccups. With the inner ear fully developed, it may be able to sense being upside down in the womb.
Fetal development at 28 weeks
The fetus weighs about 2 pounds 6 ounces. It changes position frequently at this point in pregnancy. There's a good chance of survival if your baby was born prematurely now. Ask your doctor about preterm labor warning signs. Register for birthing classes. Birthing classes prepare you for many aspects of childbirth, including labor and delivery and parenting the newborn.
Fetal development at 32 weeks
Often on the move, the fetus weighs almost 4 pounds. The baby's skin has less wrinkles as a layer of fat starts to form under the skin. It will gain up to half its birth weight between now and delivery. Ask your doctor how to do a fetal movement chart. Think about breastfeeding. Soon you may start leaking colostrum from your breasts, a yellowish fluid that precedes milk production.
Fetal development at 36 weeks
Babies differ in size, depending on many factors (such as gender, the number of babies being carried, and size of the parents), so your baby's overall rate of growth is as important as the actual size. On average, it's about 12.5 inches and weighs 5.5 pounds. The brain has been developing rapidly. Lungs are nearly fully developed. The head is usually positioned down into the pelvis by now. A pregnancy is considered 'at term' once 37 weeks has been completed; baby is ready!
A mother's due date marks the end of her 40th week. A pregnancy begins with implantation and the delivery date can be calculated using the first day of the last period. Based on this, pregnancy can last between 38 and 42 weeks with a 'full term' delivery occurring around 40 weeks. Some post-term pregnancies - those lasting more than 42 weeks - are not truly post-term. A common "cause" is an incorrect due date. For safety reasons, most babies are delivered by 42 weeks, inducing labor if necessary.