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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Guardian publishes misleading personal account of abortion

Posted by Rhoslyn Thomas on 31 July 2012

At the beginning of July, an OpEd was published in the Guardian by a woman who had aborted her unborn baby at 6 weeks.

She had taken her mobile phone into the operating theatre with her and taken photos of what she saw, during the abortion. The original site may be found at:

The author of the website stated that her intention was to "empower and educate women" and said that the "abortion procedure itself, albeit uncomfortable, was straightforward and passed with ease." She also said that what she saw during her abortion was not at all similar to the placards held by pro-life protestors outside the clinic. She said, the "protestors’ heartless use of lifeless foetus images made me feel cheated, lied to and manipulated."

Though it is important to note that this woman has every right to publish and comment on her experience of abortion, it is equally important to point out that what the protestors were showing were real pictures of aborted babies at different stages of development. It is not surprising that her baby would have been reduced to what is seen in the jar, given that his or her body was at a very early stage of development at just 6 weeks, and would have been pulverised by the vacuum used to extract his or her body from the womb. The implication of these photos and the accompanying text is that what had existed in her womb at that point was only what is apparent in the photos, that is some bloody liquid, and nothing more.

It is useful to point out some basic facts about the baby whose death was documented on this website. At 6 weeks:

  • The brain, which began development at 3 weeks gestation, continues to grow and the baby responds to touch and moves spontaneously
  • All four chambers of the heart are already present and the baby’s own blood (often a different blood type to that of his or her mother) is being pumped around the body.
  • The beginnings of arms and legs are beginning to show.
  • And, though the human embryo only measures less than 1/4 of an inch long,
  • the "most significant developmental milestones occur long before birth during the first eight weeks following conception when most body parts and all body systems appear and begin to function"

A suction and curettage abortion would most likely have been used in the case outlined above. The video below helps to explain why the pictures used did not show a fully formed baby. This video features Fr Frank Pavone, a priest who leads the organisation, Priests for Life, who describes a suction and curettage abortion. Though this is a religious and pro-life organisation, the facts described in the video remain the same.

When reading literature dealing with the development of the baby before and after birth, there exists a strange contradiction. On the one hand, society (and in this case the NHS) marvels at the rapid and amazing growth of the unborn child, using the word 'baby'. Yet, on the same website, the humanity of the unborn is dismissed when discussing an abortion, that is, the premature ending of that unborn baby's life. Is the unborn baby alive one minute and a commodity to be discarded the next if we decide that this is so?

In November 2011, research carried out by the University of Chicago and published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology found that:

"Obstetrician-gynecologists' beliefs about when pregnancy begins appear to be shaped significantly by whether they object to abortion and by the importance of religion in their lives."

It is very troubling that those who literally deal with life and death on a daily basis cannot accept the scientific fact that human life begins at conception. If our doctors cannot realise, with all their medical knowledge, that humanity is not based on convenience, then it is no surprise that abortion continues unabated in the UK and that cases like are congratulated and held up as acts of bravery. Surely, in this age of equality, we are ready to look past aesthetics and recognise the humanity of the unborn child from conception?

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