The news that the United States Supreme Court will examine the constitutionality of pre-viability pro-life laws, including Mississippi’s ban on abortion at 15 weeks, was welcomed by the Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI), Susan B. Anthony List’s research and education arm.
In a column for The Register, Rekha Basu argues that naming a fetus a “baby” is a religious and rhetorical construct rather than “established science.”
On the other hand, the scientific evidence strongly suggests that the preborn infant in her mother’s womb is not only a “fetus,” but a baby.
According to today’s science textbooks, our human lives begin long before we are born, even before being deemed “viable” to survive outside the womb.
“The time of fertilization represents the starting point in the life history, or ontogeny, of the individual,” writes biology professor Bruce M. Carlson of the University of Michigan in McGraw-textbook Hill’s “Patten’s Foundations of Embryology, 6th ed.”
Harvard University Medical School professor Micheline Matthews-Ross testified before a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in 1981. Matthews-Ross said, “It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception … and that this developing human always is a member of our species in all stages of life,” according to New York Times, April 26, 1981.
Dr. Watson A. Bowes of the University of Colorado Medical School argued at the same government hearing in 1981: “The beginning of a single human life is from a biological point of view a simple and straightforward matter—the beginning is conception. This straightforward biological fact should not be distorted to serve sociological, political or economic goals.”.
After reviewing the evidence, the Senate subcommittee issued the following report: “Physicians, biologists and other scientists agree that conception marks the beginning of the life of a human being—a being that is alive and is a member of the human species. There is overwhelming agreement on this point in countless medical, biological and scientific writings.” (Subcommittee on Separation of Powers to Senate Judiciary Committee S-158, Report, 97th Congress, 1st Session, 1981)
In other words, our lives begin when we are conceived, not when we are born.
According to a growing body of scientific literature, unborn children will experience pain at least halfway through pregnancy.
Tara Sander Lee, Ph.D., CLI’s senior fellow and director of life sciences, and a co-author of the peer-reviewed report “The Perinatal Revolution,” said of fetal growth at 15 weeks gestation: “Unborn babies at 15 weeks gestation have fully formed eyebrows, noses and lips.
“They can taste and make facial expressions, yawn, hiccup, swallow, and suck their thumbs.
“The baby’s fully formed heart pumps about 26 quarts of blood per day. Most of his or her body responds to light touch, and the child can start moving each finger separately.
“Boys and girls even move differently in the womb.
“Moreover, we know that pain receptors start to develop at seven and a half weeks gestation and by 15 weeks, brain structures are mature enough to process pain. Painful procedures elicit a hormonal stress response.”
“Viability as understood in 1973 is a relic–with today’s technology, premature babies are increasingly able to survive at 22 weeks or even earlier with active care. We hope the Court will take this opportunity to catch up to science and reconsider Roe’s arbitrary and unscientific standard for the protection of unborn human life.”