When Does Human Life Begin?
Documentation for this article is: I have 33 years of experience in assisting in the teaching of prenatal classes, my wife - who is advising me - is a Registered Nurse, Certified in Inpatient Obstetrical Nursing, a Graduate of the School of Nurse Midwifery from John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland and a Childbirth Education Specialist. Further documentation will be placed at the end of this article.
This subject, of when human life begins, has always been a controversial one. For example, some believe life does not start until the baby is born and takes it's first breath, others are of the opinion that it doesn't start until the fertilized egg implants itself in the womb, after traveling down the fallopian tube, and still others feel life starts when the egg is fertilized in the fallopian tube. Another controversial area is that of abortions. Some doctors will only perform abortions up to the 3rd trimester, while others will perform partial birth abortions. Right now we have a candidate for president who believes there is nothing wrong in murdering a baby, after it has been born if abortion efforts have failed.
But, are any of theses views correct? Here are some FACTS; the reader can draw their own conclusion after reading them as to when life starts.
The female egg (ovum) is actually fertilized usually in the upper portion of the fallopian tube. (The "upper portion" is that part of the fallopian tube where the ovum enters the tube.) It's interesting how the ovum gets into the fallopian tube. Each month, an ovum drops out of the ovary where they are stored, and free falls into space. In the meantime, the loose end of the fallopian tube has cilia (or hairs) and they are "sweeping" back and forth. Under normal circumstances, the ovum is actually swept into the fallopian tube. A mistaken idea of some is the fallopian tube has a suction effect on the ovum. This is not true. The fallopian tube is more like a floor sweeper than vacuum cleaner in its actions. There have been cases where the egg misses the fallopian tube and falls into the body cavity and gradually disintegrates.
But, for now I will stay with the norm and state the ovum has entered the fallopian tube and is fertilized. As it progresses down the fallopian tube towards the uterus, (or womb), the cells of this fertilized egg will divide and this will result in the forming of the embryo. The developing baby is considered an embryo from conception to 3 months, after that the developing baby is referred to as a fetus. It is referred to as a fetus until birth. Certain traits that will last for a lifetime, start implementing themselves as soon as the cells start dividing. For example: the sex of the baby is determined by the sperm of the father - not by the ovum of the mother. Other traits are the color of the eyes, DNA and other traits that are passed from generation to generation are forming.
The fertilized ovum continues its journey down the fallopian tube and buries itself into the blood enriched uterine wall where it will continue to develop. (If there is no fertilized ovum, the female will shed the excess blood and unfertilized ovum. This is known as the monthly menstruation.)
At 18-25 DAYS the heartbeat can be heard through the proper medical devices. The brain is already at work since it jump starts the heart. The heart will continue to beat until the person dies, under normal circumstances. (At this point the embryo can be covered with the head of a straight pin it's so small.) It's also interesting to note that a person is not considered dead until the brain is considered dead. The formation by cell division of this developing baby will continue for about 7 months. After this, the fetus will spend most of the time putting on weight. Under most circumstances, the fetus, will be around 20-23 inches long and 7-9 pounds at birth.
A question that makes for controversial discussion, is at what point does the fertilized egg receive its soul?
" For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother's womb."
Psalms 139:13 (HCSB)
Childbirth Education Practice, Research and Theory, by Francine H. Nichols and Sharron Smith Humenik
The Merriam Webster Dictionary
Textbook for CHILDBIRTH EDUCATORS, second edition, by Patricia Hassid
What to Expect When You're Expecting by Arlene Eisenburg, Heidi Eisenberg Murkoff, Sandee Eisenbergh Hathaway with forward by Dr. Richard Aubry, Director of Obstetrics, Upstate Medical Center, Syracuse, NY