“For You formed my inward parts;
You knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are Yor works;
My soul knows it very well.”
(Psalm 139:13- 14a. ESV)
My original intention when I set out to write this post several weeks ago was to explore the familiar “one flesh” statement in Genesis: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24, ESV)
How can two people, a man and woman in a marriage covenant, become one? I pondered whether there might be something from the natural, physical world that might help illustrate “two separate identities becoming one.”
My mind turned to human reproduction. The search was on. The Internet replaced Biology and Human Anatomy text books. I discovered more than a potential illustration of how a man and a woman become one flesh in the marital relationship.
My research immediately pulled my mind back to the question that I have addressed in the previous blog posts: When does a baby in the womb become a person deserving legal protection? I believe the answer lies in the following information lifted from my research:
When two unique cells- an egg and a sperm- come together they lose their identity and become one very special cell- a living organism that can divide and grow into a baby boy or girl- another human being.
In human reproduction, the male produces thousands of sperms- single cells with a nucleus but with only half of the chromosomes that identify us as being human. The woman’s body produces ova/eggs that are also single cells with a nucleus but only 23 chromosomes. Because the sperm and egg contain only half of the number of chromosomes, they are call haploid cells. In the human body, only egg and sperm cells are haploid—containing only 23 chromosomes.
These cells, sperm and egg, are not living organisms and cannot survive unless fertilized. Both sperms and eggs have a very short shelf life if fertilization does not take place.
Now I quote from a textbook: “sperm and egg cells, known as gametes, fuse during fertilization to create a Zygote. During fertilization, a sperm and ovum unite to form a new diploid organism.” (Note my emphasis.)
This new human diploid cell contains the full set of 46 chromosomes and has the potential to multiply by dividing. To grow and mature into another human being. But, note in the bold print above how the sperm and egg have “fused” together. They have become one cell with a full set of 46 chromosomes that will determine everything about the baby that is developing in the mother’s womb. This cell- this tiny cell- is a living organism with its own identity while living within but not part of its mother. It is a distinct organism from its mother. Its life could potentially extend through nine months of gestation and decades outside the womb.
So, it is here inside the mother’s body that something special, something wonderful, has happened. Two unique cells have fused to become one new living being. This truth from human reproduction- from science- convinces me that life begins at conception and has potential to live and mature for nine months in its mother’s uterus. If not destroyed.
So having shared three previous posts asking when does an embryo become a person, I choose to land on these words above: “fuse” and “form a new, living organism.” Any deliberate attempt to prevent its maturation and a live birth is to take another human life. It is wrong. It is inhumane.
That is why I have written these posts. I add my voice to those who, like the 19th century abolitionists who demanded the immediate end of slavery. A war was fought. Blood was spilled on American soil to remove the curse of slavery. Pictures and stories about the suffering that black slaves endured helped turn public opinion.
Today, after the death of Roe v Wade, it’s as if another war has been declared. A war against life itself. Liberal politicians rush to protect abortion on demand. Liberal states advertise that they’re open for business. Even some more conservative states are being caught up in the abortion riptide.
Two pictures are unwelcome at a proabortion rally or in front of the local Planned Parenthood building: pictures of the tiny miracle sucking his thumb while living inside the womb of its mother and especially unwelcome are real pictures of the “product” of an abortion- whether burned by saline solution or dismembered and suctioned or poisoned. (Yes, those are harsh words, but it’s the truth about abortion. The truth they want to hide. The truth, like that of slavery, that the public needs to acknowledge.)
Let us join the struggle to remove this blight that tarnishes our claim to be a civil society. Let us reclaim the high ground in the struggle to protect all human life. Let us demonstrate compassion for the pregnant woman who is being pressured to abort her baby. Let us walk with her through her pregnancy- both prenatal and postnatal.
Let us help reveal the mystery and wonder that is happening inside the womb. I encourage you to go on Line to be, as I was, overwhelmed and exclaiming “Wow! Marvelous! Unbelievable! Wonderful!”
I share a very few examples of the wonder that is transpiring inside the womb:
By the 4th week of pregnancy, the neuro tube that will become the brain and nervous system is forming and the head is beginning to form as is the head with eyes, ears and mouth. (The formation of the eye between the 3rd and 10th week is a marvel in itself.)
5th week: Cells that will become the heart are beginning to pulsate at 110 times per minute.
6th week: arms and legs and taste buds are forming.
7th week: Cartilage is beginning to become bones.
8th week: All major organs have developed.
10th week: Arms, hands with fingers fully formed and nails beginning to grow; same with feet and toes.
12th week: The circulatory, digestive and urinary systems are working- creating urine.
16th week: The baby can hear her mother’s voice and will also respond to light.
From this point on, the baby will grow and gain weight to prepare for his/her birth. That, in a nutshell is a snapshot of the miracle and the wonder that happens when two cells- an egg and a sperm- fuse to become one new living organism!
Imagine, if David could have known, what we now know about the wonder when two cells become a new, living organism- another person growing in its mother’s womb.
The debate over abortion ought to be when is a baby a person deserving protection- a wonderful miracle not just a piece of tissue to throw away.
If you agree, please add your voice.