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Friday, 22 August 2014

Womb - or tomb? (Part 2).

For a number of years I gave the opportunity, to my senior pupils, to choose a major topic for discussion.  One of the most popular was that of abortion!   However, one day I was summoned to the office of the head teacher.  He had received a telephone call from a parent, complaining about my having told his 16-year-old daughter what happened at an abortion (almost as if he thought that the rest of the class had not been present!).  I cannot now recall his exact words - as related to me by the head teacher - but the gist of them was that he didn't want his daughter, already able to legally engage in sexual intercourse, to know what happened, "in case she ever needed to have an abortion"!

That, I believe, is a major part of the problem about the procedure.  So many do not know - and do not wish to know - what actually happens.  They are content to believe that all that is removed from the female is a homogenous bundle of cells, no more 'human' than an appendix or than tonsils.  That is why, I suspect, so many talk of the woman's body, as if that was all that was involved.

I'll explain a little about procedure in a subsequent post but, for now, let's determine exactly what it is that is being aborted.

It is safe to say that the female - girl or woman - does not know, for certain, that she is indeed pregnant until approximately seven to eight weeks after conception.  By that time, the embryonic heart is already beating!  I would suggest that it is also safe to say that, by the time a decision is made to seek an abortion, and arrangements made for the procedure to take place, another four to six weeks will have passed.  This means that the earliest stage at which an abortion would normally be carried out would about twelve to fourteen weeks after conception or, to put in another way, approximately one-third of the way through the pregnancy.

With the benefit of scans, we now have a clear picture of what the unborn child is like at that stage in its pre-natal life.  At twelve weeks, the foetus measures about 60 mm from crown to rump and weighs between 9 and 14 grams. It is fully formed, from tooth buds to toenails, and the baby's job now is simply to continue getting larger and stronger for the rest of the pregnancy. With the most critical development behind the foetus, the chance of miscarriage drops considerably after this week.  However, it is only at this stage that the possibility of an abortion becomes a reality!  This, it must be clear to any normal person, is no 'lump of cells'.  This is, unmistakeably, a baby - a human being at an early stage of its development, but a human being nevertheless.

This little life is, of course, dependent upon its mother - but it is a totally separate being.   A unique individual, just waiting to be born.

Next time, we'll look at some of the methods used to kill this little life - and to turn the womb into, temporarily, a tomb.

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