I recently came across this article dealing with the issue of abortion bans: https://www.yahoo.com/news/doctor-holds-tic-tac-demonstrate-203000794.html
This article is a good opportunity to discuss some common talking points around abortion. I’m getting all of my facts directly from the Mayo Clinic or WebMD.
In the article, Dr. Nancy Staats is quoted as saying, “At six weeks, a human fetus is about half the size of this Tic Tac, four millimeters high.” Although I don’t know the exact measurements of a Tic Tac, it is true that a baby at this stage of development is very small (about ¼ - ½ inch long). Of course, Dr. Staats shares this information because she believes it justifies elective abortion and she was specifically testifying against a Florida bill that would ban abortions at 6 weeks. But is someone’s size morally relevant for deciding whether or not to end that person’s life? The key question is not what size you are, but WHAT you are. Is my 2-year-old son less valuable than my 3-year-old because he’s smaller?
Dr. Staats goes on to say that a 6-week-old human fetus “Does not have a face. ... There is no heart, there is no lungs, there is no brain. It doesn’t have toes. It looks more like a tadpole.” There are a few things to address in this quote:
Cardiac activity begins 5 weeks into pregnancy and can generally be detected on an ultrasound by 6 weeks. To quote the Mayo Clinic: “A baby's cardiovascular system begins developing five weeks into pregnancy, or three weeks after conception. The heart starts to beat shortly afterward.” It is true that there is not a fully-formed, four-chambered heart at 6 weeks, but this gets to another important point…
Is one’s level of development a morally relevant category? I have a 3-week-old son who was born a few weeks early and had to spend 5 days in the NICU to help his lungs get stronger. Is he more valuable today because he’s “more developed” than he was 3 weeks ago? Would I be justified in ending his life because he’s less developed than our 2-year-old?
To the assertion that a 6-week-old fetus “looks more like a tadpole”…That is what a human being looks like at that stage of development. The important question is not what a being looks like, but what it actually is. Our appearance as human beings changes as we develop and age, but none of that changes the essential nature of what we are (human beings).
Dr. Staats is quoted as saying, “It is mind-boggling for me to listen to people who have not one iota of medical training, stand up here and try to educate you about a heartbeat or this or that or pregnancy.” One might be mind-boggled to learn that Dr. Staats is not an OBGYN, but an anesthesiologist (apparently with a specialization in embryology? Sorry, I couldn’t resist). You do not need to be a medical professional to understand basic facts of human development.
For pro-lifers such as myself, this is why we need to keep the focus of the abortion debate on the essential nature of the unborn: they are human beings. The science of embryology and the wisdom of common sense agree on that point. These are not mere “clumps of cells.” They are little boys and girls. And as a pro-life Christ-follower, I’ll go one step further: they are human beings created in the image of God, intricately woven and knit together by their Creator.
Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/multimedia/fetal-ultrasound/sls-20076294?s=3