Black/Blue/All… Lives Matter. We have been following the discourse on this issue through the summer of 2020. My question is not about the adjective that precedes which lives matter. My question is: When does a life matter?
The United States Supreme Court in 1973 recognized a constitutional right to abortion, but held that states could prohibit abortion after fetal viability—the point at which a fetus can sustain life outside the womb—if their policies met certain requirements.
As science and technology have progressed and as pro-life advocates have worked to restrict abortion in a world where moral and ethical boundaries are vanishing, we acquired state-by-state rules determining when during the gestational period abortions can be performed. And many states legislators are in a constant battle to remove these restrictions, thereby making abortions more accessible during the length of a pregnancy.
And now with a November 2020 presidential election looming the Democratic candidate, Joseph Biden, Jr. has determined when a life matters – and a life in the womb didn’t make the cut.
“Biden will work to codify Roe v. Wade, and his Justice Department will do everything in its power to stop the rash of state laws that so blatantly violate Roe v. Wade.”(source: https://joebiden.com/womens-agenda/)
Codifying Roe v. Wade would take the question of safe* and legal abortion out of the Supreme Court’s hands by passing legislation in Congress that guarantees women in every state the right to unfettered access to abortion.
Unfettered access means abortion on demand – no restrictions.
Now that we have the terminology and definitions out of the way, let’s try to understand what “when does a life matter” means. There are voters that likely do not know what their particular state’s restrictions are on abortion – of if there are any. There are voters who may think that it’s not terrible to end a pregnancy in the 1st trimester (no one is really getting hurt) and they can’t “see” anything at this point. But there is a lot going on in those first, second and third trimesters**:
Fertilization happens when a sperm meets and penetrates an egg. It’s also called conception. At this moment, the genetic makeup is complete, including the sex of the baby. Within about three days after conception, the fertilized egg is dividing very fast into many cells.
Development at 4 Weeks
At this point the baby is developing the structures that will eventually form his face and neck. The heart and blood vessels continue to develop. And the lungs, stomach, and liver start to develop
Development at 8 Weeks
The baby is now a little over half an inch in size. Eyelids and ears are forming, and you can see the tip of the nose. The arms and legs are well formed. The fingers and toes grow longer and more distinct.
Development at 12 Weeks
The baby measures about 2 inches and starts to make its own movements. Your doctor may hear the baby’s heartbeat with special instruments. The sex organs of the baby should start to become clear.
Development at 16 Weeks
The baby now measures about 4.3 to 4.6 inches and weighs about 3.5 ounces. The baby’s eyes can blink and the heart and blood vessels are fully formed. The baby’s fingers and toes have fingerprints.
Development at 20 Weeks
The baby weighs about 10 ounces and is a little more than 6 inches long. 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.”
An ultrasound will show the baby’s heartbeat and movement of its body, arms, and leg. You can usually find out whether it’s a boy or a girl at 20 weeks.
Development at 24 Weeks
The baby weighs about 1.4 pounds now and responds to sounds by moving or increasing his pulse. You may notice jerking motions if he hiccups. With the inner ear fully developed, the baby may be able to sense being upside down in the womb.
Development at 28 Weeks
The baby weighs about 2 pounds, 6 ounces, and changes position often at this point in pregnancy. If you had to deliver prematurely now, there is a good chance the baby would survive.
Development at 32 Weeks
The baby weighs almost 4 pounds and is moving around often. The baby’s skin has fewer wrinkles as a layer of fat starts to form under the skin. Between now and delivery, your baby will gain up to half his birth weight.
Development at 36 Weeks
On average, a baby at this stage is about 18.5 inches and weighs close to 6 pounds. The brain has been developing rapidly. Lungs are nearly fully developed.
A mother’s due date marks the end of her 40th week. The delivery date is calculated using the first day of her last period. Based on this, pregnancy can last between 38 and 42 weeks with a full-term delivery happening around 40 weeks.
In my home state of Pennsylvania, abortions can be done up to 24 weeks. Thus, the when a life does not matter, meaning that a child can be aborted legally even though she has her own DNA, her own heartbeat and her own fingerprints which distinguish her from any other human being, including her mother.
So, when do most Americans start to feel squeamish about abortion or do they at all? Is snuffing out a fingerprint acceptable, but maybe not a heartbeat? Does a nose formation leave them lukewarm but a blinking eye is another story? And when does “on demand” take some intestinal fortitude to agree with? If a premature baby can be cared for and expected to survive at 28 weeks, does our nation really feel collectively that it is none of our business if the same child can be aborted should the law be codified and restrictions removed. Is silence – or voting in favor of it – approval?
These babies with moving eyes and lips, beating hearts and individual DNA structure are vulnerable in that they are relying on parents, doctors, nurses and the rest of us to advocate for their right to their own life. A life they were intended to live. A life other children get to live. A life each of us had the opportunity to live once free of the umbilical cord. They can’t yet speak, they can’t yet hold a sign, they don’t have a symbolic flag to wave, they can’t yet march in a protest. When does their life matter? Sadder yet, When doesn’t their life matter?
*an abortion is never safe – at least one life is guaranteed to be ended and the other may be physically and/or emotionally wounded.
**( Source: WebMD | Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on February 23, 2019)
Pregnancy & Assistance Resources:
Community Women’s Center of America: 215-826-8090
A Baby’s Breath: 484 571-5540
Post Abortive Assistance:
Rachel’s Vineyard: 877-467-3463