Many people support killing children in the womb yet most of them believe a woman’s choice to abort her child must be taken away at some point. After years of debating this topic, here’s what I’ve learned about when they think a child’s life is worth protecting…
- When they become ‘viable’ (can survive outside of the womb): Each child achieves ‘viability’ at different points (21 to 24 weeks), just as they will achieve puberty at different points. Regardless, no doctor or hospital is going to intentionally remove a healthy premature child from their mother’s womb alive. They would expose themselves to enormous liability by risking the health of the child, possibly causing long-term disability, and exposing themselves to financial ruin. Killing these children through abortion is legal and thus absolves them of these concerns.
- When their brainwaves can be measured: Brainwaves can be measured through electroencephalogram as early as 40 days after fertilization. Those supporting this point in life as the limit for abortion reason that if we declare someone dead when brainwaves are no longer detected, then we shouldn’t consider them alive until they start. But there’s a stark difference. A prenatal child is moving toward developing this natural ability as part of their normal growth pattern whereas someone who is dying is moving away from this ability. Declaring a prenatal child dead when they are clearly alive simply because they haven’t emitted brainwaves is like declaring them handicapped because they haven’t developed legs yet. They will walk someday, they just need time.
- When their heart begins to beat: Our hearts begin to beat just 18 days following conception. This is well before most mothers know they are pregnant with their child, so using this as a factor to determine when to kill a child is moot.
- When they reach their second trimester: The second trimester begins at the fourth month of pregnancy. A child at this stage is 13 weeks old. Using this age to limit abortion would mean that children who have developed every organ, have fingerprints, can move their arms and legs, make facial expressions, suck their thumbs, hiccup, and are sensitive to touch could be killed on demand. This is an arbitrary marker that begs a serious question: what changed about the child at 12 weeks 6 days 23 hours and a child at 13 weeks? The answer is nothing, and remember, each child progresses differently.
- When their movement can be felt (quickening): Pregnant mothers begin to feel their children moving between the 13th and 16th week. Lots of factors determine when a mother will feel her child ‘flutter’, including characteristics of her own body, not just her child’s body. In fact, a child begins to move during their 6th week of life, long before their mother feels them. Clearly, a mother who wants to kill her child later than this point could simply claim she can’t feel them kicking.
- When they become sentient (react to outside stimuli): This is related to quickening, as it’s a metric to determine a characteristic of the child themselves. Using this as a limit is also fraught with challenges since each child is different and measuring their reactions to outside stimuli is unreliable. It’s possible to hold a bright light next to a pregnant mother’s abdomen and observe her child kick. But what if her child was asleep or blind? Should they no longer be protected?
There’s only two ways to avoid all of this confusion and hypocrisy. We either protect prenatal children from the moment their lives begin (fertilization), or we legally destroy them until their birth. Which will it be?
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