Northwest Missourian Opinion

Babies grow up to become a myriad of things. They can grow to be doctors, lawyers, teachers, parents, comedians—the possibilities are endless. That is, if the baby is given that opportunity to grow. Sadly, many children are deprived the opportunity to even experience life outside the womb.

Abortion is an act that deprives a small baby of that most fundamental right to life.

In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 638,169 abortions in the United States. That is 188 abortions per 1,000 live births, nearly one-fifth of all pregnancies. That is 638,169 possible friends, spouses, coworkers and classmates we never had the chance to meet.

Many rationalize abortion by claiming it is not the act of murdering a baby but simply removing a mass of tissue.

In a 2018 Bazaar article titled “Abortion is not Murder,” reporter Jennifer Wright made a bold claim in response to a proposed pro-life position defending any budding cell of life.

“Some pro-lifers are fond of exclaiming that we should treat fertilized ovum with reverence since ‘A single cell discovered on Mars [would] be considered life!’” Wright said. “Yes. And if that life posed any threat to us, we’d kill it immediately.”

In theory, she is right: If a sign of life on Mars was considered dangerous, few people would feel any shame in destroying it. But, there’s one thing she fails to consider: That hypothetical piece of life they destroyed had no potential of becoming human life. A “fertilized ovum,” however, is the beginning of a human person.

Given the chance, that “mass of tissue” or “fertilized ovum” can grow wiggling toes, a baby bum and a bright baby smile. Given even more time, those little arms, tiny belly and button nose could grow into a full-grown, adult human.

That human, with its gift of life, could potentially cure cancer or eliminate world hunger. Even if they do nothing that grandiose, they deserve the chance to do so. Whoever is reading this got that chance, and whoever is reading this was once nothing but a “fertilized ovum.”

When the sperm and egg meet and a fertilized ovum is formed, human life begins, as explained by Keith L. Moore, professor emeritus of anatomy at the University of Toronto, in “Essentials of Human Embryology.”

"Human development begins after the union of male and female gametes or germ cells during a process known as fertilization (conception),” Moore said. “Fertilization … begins with the contact of a sperm (spermatozoon) with a secondary oocyte (ovum) … to form a new cell. This fertilized ovum ... is the beginning, or primordium, of a human being."

New York passed the Reproductive Health Act Jan. 21. This bill permits abortions up to the 24-week mark and at any time if the baby would not survive birth or to protect the mother’s life or health, according to AM New York.  

At 24 weeks, babies have arms, legs and a head. They can hear, their eyes can move, and they have functioning organs, nerves and muscles, according to the Mayo Clinic. They have had a heartbeat since the 5th week of gestation. Ultrasounds can show them sucking their thumb by week 21. They’ve even had everything needed to cry since week 20, according to Verywell Family.

The bill defines a person as “human being who has been born and is alive.” Yet, clearly, before birth, this little human demonstrates a lot of baby-like characteristics: small, curled up, sucking its thumb and even crying—sure seems like a baby.

When it comes to a woman considering an abortion, science sometimes falls short when in the context of her unique physical or emotional circumstances.  

For example, in the terrible instance of a sexual assault, a resulting pregnancy may seem like an unwanted reminder. But although the baby may be a product of that cruelty, it is in no way the cause, and should not be punished for what has been done against the woman.

Jennifer Christie, who shared her story in a 2017 Irish Times article and became an anti-abortion speaker after choosing to raise a child conceived in rape, considers that pregnancy a beautiful gift from a terrible event.

“(Looking at the ultrasound was) the first time since I was raped I didn’t feel quite so alone, and I felt like something inside of me was alive again,” Christie said.

Some women consider abortion when they feel unprepared to support the child or fear it will be raised in a bad environment. But consider how unimaginable it seems to look at a person you know who grew up in a bad situation and claim they shouldn’t have been born.

If raising the child is a concern, adoption can be a beautiful alternative for the baby, the mother and a family that may not otherwise have children.

Women sometimes seek an abortion in defense against the baby suffering a short lifespan or debilitating illness. But even a baby around for a short time can have an impact, and there’s no guarantee they won’t beat the medical odds.

The Reproductive Health Act allows abortions at any time if “necessary to protect the patient's life or health” and provides no further clarification of what is considered a significant threat to a woman’s “health.” This opens the door to even later-term abortions under hazily-defined circumstances of a baby deemed dangerous despite the situation not being life-threatening. This disregards that babies are considered viable after 24 weeks and have an 80 percent survival rate by week 26, according to Verywell Family.

A women’s well-being is extremely important, but abortion is not an issue of women’s rights. It is an issue of human rights. It is not about picking the woman or the child; it is about giving equal rights to both humans involved, woman and child.

Pro-Choice proponents strive to liberate women by giving them a choice. Unfortunately, in doing so, it eliminates the child’s choice, freedom and liberation.

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