When does human life begin?
Human embryologists, the real scientific experts in the area of human development, authoritatively conclude that a human embryo is a human being immediately beginning at fertilization – the fusion of an egg and sperm immediately resulting in a new, genetically distinct human being (zygote). At no other logical or scientifically sound point can we say that human life begins. The embryo is not an organ or some pre-human cellular glob without purpose or plan. Embryologists categorically reject the notion of a “pre-embryo” or some form of evolving “human-being-on-the-way.” From its inception, the embryo contains its entire genetic makeup and needs only time to grow and develop into what we would recognize as a human person.
Are embryos human beings? Are they really one of us?
Embryos are no different in their fundamental humanity from a 5-month fetus in the womb, a 5 year-old girl, or a 50-year old man. At every stage of development, human beings (whether zygote, blastocyst, embryo, fetus, infant, adolescent, or adult) retain their basic human identity as they grow through their successive stages. Despite their unfamiliar appearance, embryos are very young humans.
Each of our lives began on day one as one single cell human zygote. From that point on, we simply grew and developed. As we grew bigger, we did not increase in significance. We are just as special, and our right to life is just as sacred, now as when we were just one tiny cell smaller than a pinhead.
Pre-embryo: fact or fiction?
The term pre-embryo falsely implies that a human being’s life begins at implantation – the attachment of a developing child to the wall of his or her mother’s uterus (womb) about 5 to 14 days after fertilization.* Many medical institutions and federal agencies improperly define pregnancy as beginning at implantation rather than fertilization. The term “pre-embryo” was coined in order to justify the deliberate manipulation and destruction of human beings before implantation – but after the conception – of a new human person. Therefore, according to this false distinction of human development, anything destructive done to tiny human beings during the “pre-embryonic” period would not violate ethical or moral standards.
However, the concept of a pre-embryo is rejected by today’s leading human embryologists.** All human development from fertilization to birth and beyond is a continuum. From the beginning, the one-celled zygote is a human being, complete with its entire genetic makeup.
*”At the moment the sperm cell of the human male meets the ovum of the female and the union results in a fertilized ovum (zygote), a new life has begun.” Considine, Douglas (ed.). Van Nostrand’s Scientific Encyclopedia. 5th edition. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1976, p. 943.
**Ronan O’Rahilly is one of the international “deans” of human embryology and the developer of the “Carnegie Stages of Early Human Development,” which classify human embryology. He sits on the international board (Nomina Embryologica), which determines the terminology to be used in this field. In his book, the leading text on human embryology, he confirms that human life begins at fertilization and repudiates the term “pre-embryo” as scientifically ill-defined, equivocal, unjustified and politically motivated.
The cost of redefining life’s beginning
It is clear that a human being’s life begins at fertilization. However, those who favor killing children in the womb are redefining life’s beginning so that more and more children are aborted without our knowledge or consent.
Many people believe the frequently quoted figure of 1.3 million annual abortions is accurate. It is not. That 1.3 million accounts for only those preborn children killed annually by surgical abortion. It does not include preborn children killed by pre-implantation chemical abortions caused by:
Actions of the birth control pill
Actions of IUDs and Depo-Provera
Actions of morning-after pills (emergency contraception)
Actions of birth control vaccines
It is critical that accurate scientific and medical knowledge be used in the defense of these human beings, our tiny embryonic brothers and sisters.
Chronology of a New Life
Your child begins the first day of his or her life within your body. At this point, the sperm and egg combine to form a new human being who carries enough genetic information as 50 sets of a 33-volume encyclopedia. This DNA will determine all of this little person’s physical characteristics and much of his or her intelligence and personality.
Your baby is three cells big. His cells will continue to divide as he starts down your Fallopian tube toward your womb, where your baby will get the food and shelter he needs to grow and develop.
Implantation into your uterus begins, and your baby continues to grow. As her cells multiply, they differentiate to perform specific functions – circulatory, muscular, neural and skeletal.
2 Weeks? Implantation is completed around this time, and you miss your first menstrual period.
3 weeks? Your baby’s heart, brain, spinal column, and nervous system are almost complete and her eyes begin to form. Your baby’s heart begins to beat. Click here for fetal heart beat, which is detected at just 3 WEEKS!
Your little boy is now approximately 1/4 inch long. The blood flowing in his veins is completely different from your blood! Kidneys, the liver and the digestive tract are already taking shape.
5 Weeks? Your daughter’s face is taking shape; her forehead, eyes, nostrils and mouth are evident; external ears are beginning; hand and foot plates appear in her limb buds.
6 Weeks? The brainwaves of your little boy can be recorded. His different muscles begin working together.
7 Weeks? Your baby’s fingers and toes are fairly well defined, and fingerprints—a unique and defining feature of every human being—are permanently engraved on her skin. All of her organs are present, complete, and functioning (except the lungs).
9-10 Weeks? All areas of your baby’s body are sensitive to touch. He sucks his thumbs, swallows, squints, frowns and puckers his brow. If his palm is stroked, he will make a tight fist.
11-12 Weeks? Your baby now has fingernails, toenails and working taste buds. She can also make all facial expressions, including a smile.
13 Weeks? Although this baby was already a boy or girl at fertilization, his or her sex is now identifiable.
Your little baby’s heart is pumping six gallons of blood every day, and you’ll soon start to feel him jumping around and turning somersaults, exercising the muscles and lungs he will need to live outside your womb. Rapid eye movement can be recorded while he’s sleeping, indicating that he is dreaming.
Your child now weighs about one pound and is a foot long. If she is born now, she would have a 50 percent chance of surviving with the help of dedicated doctors and nurses.
Your baby can open and close his eyes and
recognizes your voice! His weight continues to increase. If he
is born now, his chance of surviving increases to 90 percent.
When she is ready to be born, she will release hormones to trigger labor. Your child may weigh between 7 and 9 pounds and can be between 18 and 21 inches long!