There is a great deal of opinion on abortion and the recent restrictive Alabama law. My goal here today is to shove these opinions to the side and simply look at the science behind reproduction, consciousness, and what constitutes life. I’m not focusing on religion because religion is subject to interpretation and therefore subjective. I will lay out the facts here. Let’s begin.
First some definitions:
Embryo- An unborn or unhatched offspring in the process of development, in particular a human offspring during the period from approximately the second to the eighth week after fertilization (after which it is usually termed a fetus).
Fetus: An unborn offspring, from the embryo stage (the end of the eighth week after conception, when the major structures have formed) until birth.
Life- An organismic state characterized by capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction
Consciousness- The state of being characterized by sensation, emotion, volition, and thought
The Facts On Human Reproduction
These are the essential characteristics of human reproduction according to Brittanica, “ 1)liberation of an ovum, or egg, at a specific time in the reproductive cycle, (2) internal fertilization of the ovum by spermatozoa, or sperm cells, (3) transport of the fertilized ovum to the uterus, or womb, (4) implantation of the blastocyst, the early embryo developed from the fertilized ovum, in the wall of the uterus, (5) formation of a placenta and maintenance of the unborn child during the entire period of gestation, (6) birth of the child and expulsion of the placenta, and (7) suckling and care of the child, with an eventual return of the maternal organs to virtually their original state.”
The female germ cells are located in the ovary. The male germ cells are located in the testes. Gestation occurs in the uterus of the female. During copulation spermatozoa passes the vagina through the uterus to the Fallopian tube to fertilize the ovum.
The human body develops from a single cell produced by the male and female gamete. There are three stages to prenatal development. The pre-embryonic stage lasts for two weeks and involves cell division and cell maturity. The embryonic period lasts from the third to eighth week of development. During the fetal period the maturation of organs and tissues occurs and the body experiences rapid development.
The zygote is the first stage in the development of living organism. It contains all the necessary information needed to produce that unique organism. The zygote is filled with the 23 chromosomes from the parents. The proteins in a zygote are not activated until several cell divisions into cleavage where the zygote undergoes cell division to prepare it for creating the organism.
Blood, kidney, and nerve cells develop at the 5th week of during the embryonic stage. The brain, spinal cord, and heart begin to develop at this stage as well.
At week 6-7 the arms and legs begin to form. The brain forms into five different areas and some cranial nerves are visible. Tissue grows at this time to form the spine and other bones. Blood begins to pump through the primary vessels.
At week 8 the brain continues to grow and lungs start to form.
At week 9 essential organs begin to grow.
At week 10 the embryonic stage ends and the fetal stage begins.
Abortions Before Roe V. Wade
Karissa Haugeberg, Assistant Professor of History at Tulane University was interviewed by NPR regarding what life was like for women seeking abortion prior to Roe V. Wade. Before this case an estimated 200 women died per year. Women attempted to seek perform abortion by self harm such as falling down the stairs, ingesting rat poison, etc. There were providers that performed abortions safely, but at great risk to their medical careers and professions.
Geography is extremely significant in looking at abortion history in America. Certain states and cities offered abortion services, but women in rural areas and states were mostly without hope in finding a way to afford to go to these providers. States with a significant African-Americans population and poor rural women are slowly seeing their rights to an abortion wither away.
Professor Haugeburg noted that Americans could see the access of chemical abortion pills i.e. contraception be next on the chopping block.
Interesting to note is the fact that 70% of women who’ve had an abortion identify as Christian. 33% of Protestant women who’ve had an abortion are Baptist. An additional 31% are affiliated as Lutheran, Methodist, or Presbyterian.
There is a significant amount of information that you should thoroughly examine in the links below. I hope that this article gave you enough information to make informed arguments.
Any comments and/or questions are appreciated.