When Does Life Begin?

The unborn baby is given names by the abortion advocates such as fetus or blob of tissue in order to dehumanize what it actually is. Let’s look at where this word originates. Fetus actually comes from the Latin word for “young one” or “offspring.” Using technical words to refer to the baby takes the attention off what actually occurs in abortion. But using a different term, does not change what something is. Calling an orange an apple does not magically change the orange into an apple. If a woman is pregnant with a wanted baby, she will almost always refer to her unborn child as “the baby.” A baby is a baby no matter what he or she is called. Although this seems like a simple statement, apparently it is confusing to some.
Since abortion advocates do not believe that life begins at conception, when do they believe that it begins? The opinions vary. Some believe that life does not begin until brain activity is noticeable which occurs about two months after conception. Others hold that life does not begin until the baby draws its first breath. Still others argue that life does not begin until the child possesses the ability to reason. One of the more common views is that life begins when the child reaches viability, when the baby is able to survive outside the mother’s womb. (This is the argument of the Supreme Court.) Advances in medicine are allowing for greater survival rates of premature babies. Viability is being pushed back further and further. Every time we advance medicine to where the baby can survive outside the mother’s womb earlier, do we cause life to begin earlier? This would be the logical conclusion of this argument.

What all these views have in common is that they try to determine the beginning and the value of life based upon function (what one does) not upon essence (what one is). Only the view that life begins at conception places the value upon what the unborn actually is, a separate and unique human being. The consequence of basing human life on function is frightening. The standards for determining life can be applied not just to the unborn but the newborn, the infirm and the elderly, to justify infanticide and euthanasia.
When the zygote is formed, it meets all the criteria for life as defined by science. The baby has the “capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction.” (Merriam-Webster) The baby is not part of the mother’s body. The baby has a separate genetic code, often a separate blood type, and half the time a separate sex. The DNA stored in the zygote will not change and has become a “fingerprint” that is unique to that individual. It is a separate human being from the mother. Some argue that this is not true because it is dependent on its mother. If this argument were followed to its logical conclusion, then the baby would not be life until several years after it was born or maybe even longer. Dependency does not nullify its existence.
Advances in scientific technology now allow us to know an increasing amount about the birth process. The formation of a baby within its mother’s womb is a beautiful part of the miracle of life. Let’s examine this process step by step.
Day 1: Conception or fertilization takes place. The sperm and the ovum unite to form a single cell organism. Life has begun! The child’s sex, race, eye color, and hair color are already determined. From this point on, the child will continue to grow until it dies either through natural or external forces.
Week 1: Within 6 to 12 hours, the zygote will divide into two cells, which will divide into four cells, which will divide into eight cells, etc. The child is referred to as a morula at this time because he resembles a cluster of cells. About day 3 or 4, the baby enters the uterus. By day 7, the morula attaches to the wall of the uterus and taps into the blood vessels for nourishment.
Week 2: The amnion, a fluid sac that surrounds the baby, and the placenta, a tree-like structure that connects the baby’s bloodstream with the mother’s bloodstream, form.
Week 3-4: The heart begins beating. The brain begins to form. Arms and legs develop, along with the backbone, spinal code, and the nervous system. The baby is now 10,000 times larger than when it began. This is usually when the first signs of pregnancy begin.
Month 2: The nose, ears, eyes, and teeth are all formed. Brain waves and muscle movement can now be detected with our current technology which is constantly advancing.
Month 3: The baby is about 2 inches and weighs about an ounce. The fingers and toes form, complete with fingernails and fingerprints. The eyes now have eyelids. The baby sleeps and wakes, turns his head, tighten his fingers, opens his mouth, and puckers his lips. He has the ability to experience pain and has sexual differentiation. He “breathes” fluid into its developing lungs.
Month 4: The baby now reaches 8 to 10 inches and weighs about half a pound. Facial expressions can now be observed. Fine hair is found on the baby’s head along with eyebrows and eyelashes.
Months 5 and 6: The baby is now about a foot long and weighs close to 2 pounds. The mother can now feel the baby move inside her. Her voice is recognizable to the baby. Oil and sweat glands are functioning. The lungs have become well developed. A baby born prematurely at this time has a strong chance of survival.
Month 7 to 9: The weight of the baby more than triples. Vision, hearing, taste, and touch are all well developed. Antibodies are produced by the baby. About day 260, the baby drops down into the pelvic cavity of the mother. The baby is now ready to be born.
(Bergel, Gary. “When You Were Formed in Secret,” Intercessors for America, 1988.)