When Is a Baby a Person?

In the previous post, “Look Westley, It’s a Watermelon,” I shared a metaphor to illustrate that I believe the human life begins at conception. I realize this isn’t a popular concept today. I also expect there will some who will disagree and push back. That’s good. The one response I don’t welcome is apathy, because the issue is a matter of life or death for one person involved in an abortion.

The debate ought to center on this question: When is a baby in the womb a baby that deserves legal protection?

Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately) that debate began in the United Kingdom and the British Parliament after a woman aborted her baby that was seven months or more old in gestational age. See the excerpt below:

“A fairly one-sided ‘debate’ has been launched after a woman lied to medical professionals in order to kill her unborn baby, whose gestational age was between seven and eight months.”- Michael Curzon, Writer for The European Conservative- June 15, 2023

The incident involves a mother of three who claimed she was just seven weeks pregnant in order to secure the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol. She was in fact 32 to 34 weeks pregnant. The woman had made a number of online searches, including “How to lose a baby at six months.”

After taking the drugs that she had dishonestly obtained, they triggered labor, as intended. Her daughter—that she had named Lily—died before being born.

Today, in Great Britain the debate is over appropriate punishment, if any, for deliberately taking the life of a baby. Caroline Nokes, a member of British Parliament is calling for overhauling The Offences Against The Person Act of 1861. The act has been adapted over the years but remains British Law.

Section 58 of that law states that “Every woman, being with child, who, with intent to procure her own miscarriage, shall unlawfully administer to herself any poison or other noxious thing, or shall unlawfully use any instrument or other means whatsoever with the like intent, and whosoever, with intent to procure the miscarriage… shall be guilty of felony, and being convicted thereof shall be liable…to be kept in penal servitude for life.”

Sounds harsh.

Section 59 of the Law deals with those who supply the poison or procure the instruments to cause the miscarriage. They are also considered guilty and are to be “kept in penal servitude.”

Closer to home, in the spring of 2022, a mother assisted her 17-year-old daughter who was nearly 6 months pregnant to abort the baby. The mother ordered the abortion drugs and gave them to her daughter who reportedly had said, “I can’t wait to get this thing out of my body so I can wear jeans again….”

Mother and daughter first attempted to burn the body before finally burying it to hide the evidence. Both now face misdemeanor and felony charges for an illegal abortion and for concealing a death and abandoning a body.

Just writing that account rips my heart over the cold, insensitive attitude toward and treatment of the “stillborn” baby. My shock and pain are increased because these are people from my home state of Nebraska, where people are “common, ordinary and decent.” At least that’s what it seemed like when I grew up there.

So, if it’s not a real baby—a human child–why did the British woman name her seven-month-old baby? And in the American case, if the baby was only a “thing to get rid of,” why try to burn the body and bury the evidence?

Yes, I am angry at the careless, cold, evil treatment of these innocent persons—discarded for the sake of “convenience.” Scripture condemns it. Laws forbidding abortion have been on the books for centuries in most nations and most cities and states in the USA. Common sense and just plain decency screams that it is wrong!

I am also angry at the lies being told to justify abortion. Every little baby is precious and is wanted by someone waiting to adopt. Every embryo, even a zygote—that first diploid cell that is formed when the sperm unites with the ovum—carries the genetic material or DNA of a real person. Its gender has already been determined, as well as the color of its hair, eyes and skin. Its potential athletic skills or mental capacity is all there, waiting, just like Westley’s watermelon seed was waiting to break through the soil and greet the sun. Just like Westley’s baby sister is waiting to be cherished and loved and protected. One day, Lord willing, she will greet the world with her first cry.

But no! Some people prefer to silence them forever.

I believe the voices of the victims of abortion have not been silenced. Perhaps they may join the prayers of the martyrs whose blood cries out to be avenged. Someday, that same gentle Jesus who tousled the hair and held little children in His lap—no longer a lamb but the Lion of Judah—will avenge every innocent life that has been taken since that of Abel.

If you believe there is no God, there is also no right or wrong. Life is not sacred. It’s the survival (and pleasure) of the fittest. Let the powerful destroy the weak. But if there is a God, a Creator who made us in His image, then all life is sacred, and the reality of “right” and “wrong” can never be buried, cancelled or glossed over with politically correct terminology.

We can ignore God for a while, but not forever.

Look Westley, It’s a Watermelon

The demise of Roe v Wade has not ended the public debate over abortion. In fact, it has motivated those who favor abortion. Millions of dollars have been invested to influence elections in several states. Some are trying to place “abortion on demand” as a guaranteed right into their state constitutions.

My concern is that the debate over the issue of abortion has been derailed. It seems that the most basic issue regarding abortion is no longer being debated in the public forum, or for that matter in the halls of justice: “When does an embryo or a fetus become a baby—another human being?” That is the question. Or should be.

The metaphor below is written by a great grandfather that has two great grandsons, Calin and Westley. Both are filled with life and curiosity. But great grandfather has used Westley in the story because his name begins with a W as does watermelon and because his mother is pregnant with Westley’s baby sister.

Imagine, my great grandson, helping me plant a watermelon seed asking, “Papa, what is that little black thing? Why are you putting it into the dirt?”

“Westley, it’s a watermelon seed.”

“But, it’s so little! It doesn’t look like a watermelon.”

“Just wait, you’ll see. Inside that little black seed is something that’s alive. It’s just waiting to grow into a watermelon.”

Several warm, sunny days pass. Westley and Papa go out to the garden.

“Papa, look. What is that little green thing?”

“Westley, remember when we put that little black seed into the ground? It was alive. Look at those little green leaves popping out of the ground. It is a watermelon plant. It will grow bigger and bigger and become a long, winding vine.”

Weeks pass. Westley comes to visit again.

“Papa, look! There’s a big yellow flower on the watermelon plant.”

“Yes, Westley. That flower will become a watermelon. Just wait, you’ll see.”

Weeks pass. Days filled with sunshine and plenty of water. “Westley, come look at our watermelon plant.”

“Papa, what is that little, round ball where the flower used to be?”

“Westley, that’s a watermelon.”

“Papa, you’re teasing me. It’s too small to be a water melon. It’s no bigger than a pea.”

“Yep. But, just wait. It’s a watermelon. It’s going to grow and grow, and one day it will be a delicious watermelon.”

The melon is now big and green. Ripe and ready to pick. Westley comes to visit again.

“Oh, Papa, look at that watermelon! It’s so big!”

“Yes, it is big, Westley. Remember that little, black seed that we put it in the ground and covered with dirt? Those first little green leaves pushing their way up out of the soil. Remember that first big, yellow flower on the vine and that tiny little pea-sized ball? Now, here it is a big, round watermelon. It was always a watermelon. Even when it was a little, black seed buried out of sight in the ground. Later, when it was a flower and then a little round ball it was always a watermelon.”

“Westley, this watermelon reminds me of what is happening in your mommy’s tummy. One day your daddy helped plant a seed inside your mommy’s tummy. In a very special way that God has planned, your little sister began to grow like that watermelon seed that we couldn’t see because it was in the ground. But it was alive and was growing until one day we saw the first leaf of the watermelon plant.

“Now your tiny baby sister is growing bigger and bigger inside your mommy. Her tummy will get bigger and bigger. One day your mommy and daddy will go to the hospital and when they return, they will bring your baby sister home with them. You’ll get to see your sister for the first time. She will finally be your little sister to hold and to love. But, Westley, remember she was always alive. She was always your little sister even inside your mommy’s tummy.”

Today, the debate over the issue of abortion has been derailed. We have changed the narrative to a woman’s right over her own body or reproductive health, but the question remains: is it ethical to ignore the plight of the innocent life within a womb? Is it right—not whether it is legal—to take the life of another human being?

That raises a greater question: If an embryo or fetus is a living person, or a potential person, can it be just or moral to premeditatively take another life? I realize that I will be accused of being crude and insensitive to use the word, murder. But isn’t that what our legal system calls the premeditative act of taking another person’s life?

So, the narrative ought to return to when is a baby really a baby? Does passing through the birth canal suddenly make it a baby? Does the first gasp for air make it a baby? The first cry?

Was it a baby at 26 weeks gestation when in some states, just three days ago it was legal to kill? Did something magical happen on the 182nd day to make it a person? A person deserving legal protection?

That’s the true narrative! Not “women’s health care” or the right of a woman over her own body while ignoring the plight of another little body—a living person.

That should be the debate.