World Population Awareness

Is Abortion Murder?

When is it murder?

The development of a human being is a process of transformation: sperm and egg => fertilized egg => zygote => embryo => fetus => baby.

Sperm and egg: ingredients for a baby Millions of eggs produced by a woman are never fertilized and do not produce a baby. Millions of sperm produced by a man never fertilize an egg and do not make a baby. (no religion considers the sperm and the egg 'human life' until they unite) Other facts:

  • Ovulation occurs around fourteen days after the start of a woman's cycle
  • Sperm can live in the fallopian tubes up to 7 days. A woman is fertile four to five days before ovulation and only one day after ovulation.
  • Since the egg lives only 24 hours, so conception can only occur with 12-24 hours of ovulation.
  • The fertilized egg remains in the fallopian tube about 3 days
  • The fertilized egg, called a zygote, becomes a solid ball of cells, then it becomes a hollow ball of cells and is called a blastocyst. Before implantation, five to six days after fertilization, or 6-12 days after ovulation, the blastocyst implants in the uterus.
  • Family planning at this stage: delayed marriage & abstinence | rhythm method | breastfeeding | condoms | diaphram | sterilization | withdrawal (unreliable) | spermacides | the sponge | chemical contraception

    Egg production is stopped by oral contraception, the patch, vaginal rings, implants, and injectables. Sperm production is stopped by the male pill

    Day 1 - fertilisation (conception)

    A sperm enters the egg

    zygote - size: 0.14 mm (teensy)

    Day 2 - zygote divides

    Day 3

    The sperm and egg combine within 24 hours after ovulation. The body will not know it's pregnant until the fertilized egg implants into the uterine wall, some 5 to 12 days after ovulation. Either of these points can be seen as the moment of conception.

    Family planning methods used before implantation of the zygote in the uterus

  • Emergency Contraception (morning after) pills impede sperm and delays or blocks ovulation. It has not yet been shown to cause a change in the uterus to prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterine wall. The pill known as Ella is effective up to 5 days after taking, but has no effect once the zygote is implanted in the uterine wall.
  • IUDs, on the other hand, create an environment where the zygote cannot implant. Most doctors and most women do not consider this abortion because pregnancy begins after implantation.
  • Breast feeding suppresses ovarian function which results in the thinning of the uterus, which would prevent implantation if there were an egg to fertilize. No one objects to breast feeding, so why object to artificially blocking ovulation or preventing implantation?
  • 5-7 days from ovulation:
    Pregnancy begins with the implantation in the uterus

    Research now suggests that only about half of all zygotes implant in the uterine wall and become embryos, the rest fail to continue dividing and expire 2

    Most women do not know if they are pregnant at this point. After implantation, a pregnancy test can be used. If a woman does not suspect pregnancy, she will probably not notice until she misses a period, two weeks, on average, after ovulation.

    RU486 (also known as Mifepristone) non-surgical / medical abortion is taken by pill or injection. Having some side effects, it is not the ideal choice for every patient.

    2 weeks

    The embryo grows his or her first brain cells. The embryo's body is divided into three layers. The outer layer of cells in called the ectoderm, and will develop into the outer layer of the skin and the nervous system. The middle cells, or mesoderm, develops blood, bone, cartilage, and muscle. The endoderm, the inner layer, develops eventually into mucus membranes and glands.

    Menstrual regulation Although pregnancy may not be confirmed, many women seek menstrual regulation (MR) services because they fear they may be pregnant. The procedure, a manual suctioning of the uterine contents, is also used to regulate the menstrual periods. The procedure takes 10 minutes. It is being practiced all over the world. In some countries, it is equated with abortion. In others, it is not considered abortion, especially if it is done before knowing if there is a pregnancy.

    Day 22 (about 3 weeks) - heart starts to beat

    no bigger than the head of a pin

    Day 29

    5 weeks

    6 weeks

    about 1/2 inch

    The nervous system is ready for purposeful and even co-ordinated movements

    Menstrual regulation is given as late as 10 weeks from date of last period (age of fetus = 8 weeks) in Vietnam, and up to only 14 days (age of fetus = 7 days) in India. In Bangladesh is can be done up to 8 weeks of the last period (age of fetus = 6 weeks) and is not considered an abortion, which is illegal except to save a woman's life. In the U.S., manual vacuum aspiration (MVA) is done up to 10 weeks after the last menstrual period.

    7 weeks

    RU486 medical abortion is taken to 9 weeks from the first day of the last menstrual period (7 weeks after conception).

    8 weeks

    It is now technically called a foetus because it's organs are complete, although not fully functioning.

    Abortion Dilation and suction curettage - also known as D&C, or vacuum aspiration, gently empties the uterus with machine-operated suction. A curette (narrow metal loop) may be used to clean the walls of the uterus. This method is used six to 14 weeks after the last menstrual period (age of fetus: 4 to 12 weeks)

    Anti-abortion depiction of an 8 week fetus - found on a poster in Ecuador

    Click here for the developmental description of an 8-week fetus. Intestines are just now migrating from the umbilical cord to inside the body. Bones in the legs are just beginning ossify. This fetus is a long way from standing. I would say this is a human being in the making. The mother has not yet felt the stirrings of 'life'.

    9-10 weeks

    The fetus touches his or her own face and sucks his or her thumb, and makes breathing and swallowing motions

    Until 1869 the Catholic Church maintained that life commenced 40 days after conception. The Bible says nothing about when the spark of life is struck--the notion that sacredness begins when sperm meets egg hinges on the assumption that it is God's plan that each act of conception should lead to a baby. 2

    12 weeks

    Abortion at 12 weeks 90% of abortions are done in the first trimester.

    14 weeks

    'Life' is felt as faint stirrings by the mother

    about 3 inches

    20 weeks

    About 20 to 30% of women bleed or have cramping at some time during the first 20 wk of pregnancy; half of these women spontaneously abort. In up to 60% of spontaneous abortions, the fetus is absent or grossly malformed, and in 25 to 60%, it has chromosomal abnormalities incompatible with life; thus spontaneous abortion in > 90% of cases may be a natural rejection of a maldeveloping fetus. About 85% of spontaneous abortions occur in the 1st trimester and tend to have fetal causes.

    24 weeks

    This is the age at which the law considers a baby "viable", or able to survive outside the womb. This is a legal distinction, not a medical one. 23 weeks is the earliest date at which premature babies have survived.

    24 weeks - Age at which the fetus can first feel pain, according to an June 2010 BBC News article.

    Abortion after 24 weeks Only 1% of abortions are performed after 24 weeks. Reasons for performing an abortion this late are:

  • The fetus is dead.
  • The fetus is alive, but continued pregnancy would place the woman's life in severe danger.
  • The fetus is alive, but continued pregnancy would grievously damage the woman's health and/or disable her.
  • The fetus is so malformed that it can never gain consciousness and will die shortly after birth. Many which fall into this category have developed a very severe form of hydrocephalus (5000 cases a year). The fetal head can be as large as 50 centimeters (nearly 20 inches and contain nearly 2 gallons of liquid which must be drained before birth)
  • Cost of a 2nd-trimester abortion in the U.S. (2006): $1,260 - compared to $430 (2006) for an abortion in the first trimester.

    Partial Birth Abortions These total perhaps 0.2% of all pregnancies. They are normally performed in emergency situations where a delivery is posing an extreme danger to the woman. This might be a threat to her life, or might cause her to be seriously injured, perhaps permanently disabled.

    38 weeks

    This is the age at which a baby should, ideally, be born. The baby's lungs are fully functional and his or her immune system is ready for the outside world


    More on human embryonic development here also here

    Footnote 2. Gregg Easterbrooke, Abortion and Brainwaves, The New Republic, Jan 31, 2000


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