Opening Our Eyes to Life in order to Open Our Mouths for It
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13)
If the womb had a widow, what would we see? In the preceding article we gazed through a virtual window and marveled as Baby’s nerve cells bent and bowed to form his brain and spinal cord; his heart, no bigger than a poppy seed, began beating; and his eyes, arms, and legs began to form. We also marveled at the placenta as it pulled Baby’s needed nutrients from Mom even as it filtered out harmful substances.
In this article we continue to stand in awe of God’s handiwork as we journey through the remainder of the first trimester. By week nine of pregnancy, Baby is rapidly developing and expanding his nervous system, spreading connections throughout his body. Over the course of nine months, his nervous system will generate an average of 2.5 million neurons per minute! By the tenth week, Baby’s unique fingerprints begin to form even as his tiny, paper thin fingernails begin growing on the tips of his fingers. By week 11, tooth buds begin to form in Baby’s gums as his bones begin hardening.
Around this time, Baby begins reflexive kicking. This stepping reflex is still visible in newborns when Dad or Mom dangles Baby’s feet above the ground. Many parents have found this reflex to be an enjoyable way to interact with their baby as they “bounce” them across the floor or “stand” them on the table or hold them in their lap as Baby kicks against their hand. This reflexive kicking will give way to purposeful movement about 8 months after birth, which then enables Baby to begin the process of walking. The kicking reflex, which began in the womb, has enabled the nervous system to make the necessary connections by sending continuous feedback to Baby’s brain, which will regulate his purposeful movements.
By week 12, Baby’s kidneys begin producing urine, the liver begins to function, and the pancreas begins producing insulin. From week 6 through 12, Baby has undergone an incredible burst of growth and development: his tiny body has made over 200 types of cells; muscles and nerves have been set in motion; his liver, kidneys, and stomach are in place—and he is still less than three inches long!
Ultrasound technology has greatly assisted doctors in understanding and appreciating Baby’s development. Ultrasound images clearly show a tiny baby growing in his mother’s womb. His needs have been the same from day one: nutrition and protection. Current laws, however, do not defend these. Tragically, it is legal to dismember and discard (as medical waste!) these tiny babies. Photos of these remains are too gruesome too describe, let alone publish. But if the reality of abortion is too horrible to show, shouldn’t the procedure that produces the reality be too horrible to support? And shouldn’t laws be passed to ensure that no unborn child is subjected to such nightmarish practices? We outlaw child abuse; why do we allow unborn children to be dismembered?
Thankfully, several state legislatures are moving, albeit slowly, to protect the unborn. Some states require that a women requesting an abortion must have an ultrasound first. Some ban abortion after 20 weeks and require abortionists to have local hospital admitting privileges. Informed consent, fully disclosing to the mother the risks to her own health, also is included in many state reforms. Another law in one state prohibits abortion after a fetal heartbeat has been detected.
These are all welcome advances. Could we do more? Medical technology is increasingly opening the window to the womb. Will what we see increasingly move us to open our mouth in defense of the sacred life within the womb? Would you like to do more? To prepare yourself to speak up for the unborn, consult resources such as the following:
- Lutherans for Life
- Christian Life Resources
- Eternal Perspective Ministries Pro-Life Blog
- Stand for Life
- Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments
- The Culture of Life
Pastor Jonathan Conner of Zion Lutheran Church in Manning, Iowa, is a former board member for the Hausvater Project.