When does life begin?
It is a scientific fact that life beings at conception. Each of us started life as an embryo. When the father’s sperm fuses with the mother’s egg, a new life begins. Although very tiny, this new human being is not just a potential life – it is already an actual human life with potential and deserves to be welcomed in life and protected in law.
- At conception the sex of the baby is decided.
- 18 – 21 days the baby’s heart starts to beat.
- At 8 weeks all of the baby’s organ systems have developed.
- By 12 weeks unique fingerprints will have formed. The baby can twist its fingers and curl its toes. It can be seen yawning in scans.
- By 16 weeks the baby enjoys somersaulting and rolling over.
- At 20 weeks the baby is more aware of life outside the womb. They can hear loud music and conversations.
- From 21 weeks on, babies born premature have a greater chance of survival thanks to advances in medical care.
- From 30 weeks on, the baby starts to gain more weight and its skin fattens up. It is preparing to be born.
The amazing advances in ultrasound technology emphasise the fact that an unborn baby is not just a ‘clump of cells’. We can no longer plead ignorance to the humanity of the unborn.
Is it true that abortion is now legal in Ireland for the full 9 months of pregnancy when there is a threat of suicide present?
Yes, Fine Gael and Labour introduced this abortion law into Ireland in July 2013. It allows a baby’s life to be ended at any stage during the pregnancy when there is a threat of suicide present. The Government knew that no medical evidence exists to back up this legislation. They ignored the advice of psychiatrists who addressed the Oireachtas hearings on abortion in 2013. The psychiatrists were unanimous that abortion is not a treatment for suicidal ideation. There is no evidence that abortion reduces the mental health risks of unplanned pregnancy. However evidence does exist that shows abortion increases the risk of future mental health problems for a significant number of women.
But why the worry, the law is so restrictive. It requires three medical professionals to grant the abortion therefore only the women who need it will get it, won't they?
Ireland’s abortion law appears restrictive. It requires two psychiatrists and an obstetrician to sign off on it. In practice, however, it will be the two psychiatrists who make the final decision. The obstetrician’s opinion will be disregarded if the psychiatrists agree. The reality is that signature requirement has not prevented widespread abortion in other countries. In Britain, two doctors are required to sign off, and they still have one of the highest rates of abortion worldwide.
But do you agree that by legalising abortion then we allow women to have the right to choose what is best for her?
There are many of cases in our lives where our choices are limited, if that choice could harm the life of another person. The rhetoric of ‘choice’ in the abortion debate not only harms a life but ends one. When we read the stories of women who have been through abortion like these on Women Hurt we hear how many of them felt they had ‘no choice’.
Every child is wanted by someone. Steve Jobs, Jack Nicholson, Nelson Mandela, Jamie Foxx and Andrea Bocelli are just some of the people who would not exist if their mothers had chosen abortion over adoption.
“I wanted to meet my birth mother mostly to see if she was okay and to thank her, because I’m glad I didn’t end up as an abortion.”
Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple
What about if a woman gets pregnant after rape?
Rape is a truly horrific crime for any woman to endure. When it results in pregnancy, the woman will need the necessary professional support and care along with help from family and friends. Abortion is often thought to be the solution to this crime. However we do not suggest ending a life to rectify any other crime so why do we do so in the case of rape? The rapist should be punished and not the baby.
Peer reviewed studies on pregnancy following sexual assault such as one by Sandra Mahkorn show there is better social and personal outcome for women who chose to continue a pregnancy despite the horrific circumstances. Two Finnish studies also show a better outcome for women who chose to continue with the pregnancy compared to those who choose abortion.
Shauna Prewitt found out she was pregnant following a rape on campus. Her initial reaction to the rape was to block it out and continue her life as normal. But on finding out she was pregnant her world crashed down around her. The feelings she started to feel surprised her.
“Although I would not be able to articulate it for months, I was experiencing a most curious emotion toward the life growing inside of me, an emotion that both enlivened me and caused me to experience an intolerable shame. You see, to my surprise, I did not altogether hate the life growing inside of me. Instead, I felt a sort of kinship, a partnership — perhaps the kind that only develops between those who have suffered together — but, nevertheless, I felt a bond.”
She decided over time to continue with the pregnancy and raise the child herself. She felt very strongly that the baby growing inside her was an innocent victim as too was she. The only person who should be punished was the man who raped her. She said raising her little girl has given her “unimaginable joy”. It is hard to believe but the man who raped Shauna was never prosecuted and he attempted to win custody of her daughter during the court case. This is possible in 31 states of America due to a loophole in legislation. Shauna won full custody and now works as an attorney representing women who have been through similar situations to her.
Watch Shauna share her moving story here.
What about the baby who is born out of rape?
The lives of children who are born out of rape have the exact same value as everyone else’s. A person’s life should not be judged on how they were conceived. When we speak about allowing abortion in the cases of rape we devalue the lives of people who have been born out of these circumstances.
Ryan Scott Bomberger is one of these people. His mother courageously chose life following her rape and placed Ryan up for adoption. Watch his video of him giving thanks to his birth mom for the life that she gave him.