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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 18. 27th July 1972

A Life in Danger

A Life in Danger

Full Human Complement

This is about the unborn child, whose life is threatened by those who want to legalise abortion.

They will tell you it is not really a person, but "just a collection of cells." And to justify abortion, they talk about "socio-economic factors," "sheer desperation of the mother," "a woman's right," and so on — rarely do they talk about the unborn. It is dismissed after the first few sentences. So here I give you the facts of the unborn's existence during pregnancy, why abortion should not be legalised, and why the mother does not have the right to decide the fate of the unborn inside her.

Medical science has proved that at no stage of pregnancy is the unborn child an appendage of the mother. It is a genetically separate individual from conception. Right from the union of sperm and ovum, the zygote has a full human chromosomal complement, which given food and warmth, destines it to become a person. The cell divides into two, then four, and so on. Fortyone of 45 such cell generations which happen between fertilisation and mature adult, happen during pregnancy. The others occur in childhood and adolescence. Over seven or eight days, the multiplying and differentiating ball of cells goes along the fallopian tube to the uterus. There he implants himself in the spongy lining, and where he is also able to suppress the mother's next period. To make his home habitable for the next 270 days, the embryo develops a placenta and protective capsule for himself. He alone solves the homograft problem, so mother and foetus, immunilogical foreigners who could not exchange skin grafts safely, nor receive blood from each other, still tolerate each other in parabiosis for nine months.

The head is always difficult; the skull gets crushed, - the eyeballs protrude"

Discarded bodies of infants aborted between 18 and 24 weeks of gestation and put in plastic garbage liner for disposal.

By 25 days the developing heart starts beating. By 30 days, the baby, ¼ inch long, has a brain of unmistakable human proportions, and eyes, ears, mouth, kidneys liver umbilical cord and the heart is pumping blood he has made. BY 45 days, the baby's skeleton is complete, in cartilage, not bone, the buds of the mild teeth appear and he makes the first movements of his body and new limbs, though the mother will not notice movements for another 12 weeks.

What Next?

By 63 days, he will grasp an object placed in his palm, and can make a fist. Later, he is known to be responsive to pain, touch, cold, sound, light. He drinks his amniotic fluid, more if it is artificially sweetened, less if it has an unpleasant taste. He gets hiccups and sucks his thumb, he wakes and sleeps. He gets bored with repetitive signals, but can be taught to be alerted by a first signal for a second differenot one. And only the foetus determines his birthday.

This defenceless and helpless little thing is what it is all about — though if you listen to pro-abortion arguments, you might not think so. This is what we all once were—a child at a very early stage of development, but still a person. If killing the unborn is legalised, then that means we could eventually legalise its killing after it is born. Then, we will ask, why not kill old people, incapacitated people, the incurably sick? One month after Britain legalised abortion in 1967, a Euthanasia Bill was introduced into the House of Commons.

Help is Available

One can be cynical, and say we let people die in wars, so why the uproar about the unborn child? But do two wrongs make a right? And because the unborn child is dependent on the mother, she does not have the right to decide its fate. It is just as dependent on her after birth.

We who oppose abortion accept the need to take positive steps in the other direction. Many people have real difficulties from poverty, and lack of love, help and care. They need help from people, and social agencies. Apparently, more help is available from church, government and social agencies than most women realise. A number of women have also been misinformed about the alleged need to have an abortion, when help was available.