Conception: Life begins!
Life begins at conception as a single, separate, living cell. Nothing new is added except oxygen and nutrition. Fertilization occurs when a sperm and ovum join to form a single cell, full of life and bearing the unique genetic imprint of a person who has never existed before. The DNA in the 46 chromosomes of that small cell contain full instructions about that new individual’s sex, eye color, foot size, brain capacity, and other physical traits.
1 week: Implantation
On about the sixth day, the growing baby attaches to the wall of the mother’s uterus. That rich nutrient lining welcomes the tiny tenant, and soon the child is sending out the chemical signal that can be detected in a home pregnancy test. Before the second week is over, the cells of the child’s body will have already begun segregating themselves into the various layers that will give rise to the brain, nervous system, skin, digestive system, muscles, bones, and circulatory system
3-4 weeks: A beating heart
The baby’s heart begins its first beats as early as 18 days after fertilization, often before the mother even suspects she is pregnant. Between the third and fourth weeks, the baby’s head and spinal column become easily distinguishable, and arm buds appear. Legs will begin to appear days later. The umbilical cord forms, transporting oxygen and nutrients to the child.
6 weeks: Brain waves
Fingers are forming, and the child’s mouth and lips are apparent. The child begins his or her first movements. At six weeks, the baby has brain waves that can be measured with an electroencephalogram.
10-11 weeks: Organ systems in place
The baby has eyelids, fingernails, and fingerprints, and can grasp an object. The kidneys begin to form urine.
All body systems are in place and active: the baby has a skeletal structure, nerves, and circulation.
12 weeks: Movements and characteristics
Though too small to be felt by the mother, the baby reaches peak frequency of movement during the third month. The baby’s sex can be visually determined, and the child’s eyes, ears, and face begin to display distinctive characteristics.
14 weeks: A miracle of development
Eyebrows have formed, eye movements are seen. For a couple of weeks now, this baby has had all the body parts required to experience pain, including the nerves and spinal cord.
16 weeks: Making his or her presence known
The baby becomes large and active enough for the mother to feel movement of turns, kicks, and somersaults that at some point even become visible to the outside.
20 weeks: Hearing mother’s voice
In the fifth and sixth months, the baby responds to music, sudden noises, and voices, especially that of his or her mother. Over the coming weeks, the baby will increase seven times in weight and nearly double in height.
23 weeks . . . or earlier: Viability
Viability is the time when the baby can survive outside the mother. Not long ago, viability was at 30 weeks, then 25. Today, babies at 22 or 23 weeks have been saved, and even some younger babies have survived. What will viability be tomorrow?*
What you don’t know can hurt you
Few women faced with an unwanted pregnancy are told of the marvelous development of the life growing within them. In the absence of information, abortion seems to be the right decision at the moment. But they are not warned of what will really happen to their baby or of the possible physical and psychological effects of abortion that may stay with them the rest of their lives. And they are rarely told of the alternatives to save the life of their child.
Some doctors say that abortion is a routine operation to remove “fetal tissue.” But in truth, it is the destruction of a living human being. One young woman, who later regretted an abortion, stated, “The doctor said, ‘A little fluid out and some fluid injected, severe cramps, and then the fetus is expelled.’ That isn’t what it was. I felt my girl thrash around for an hour-and-a-half until she died a slow death.”
The mother is also exposed to long-term complications. Incomplete abortions resulting in blood clotting, bleeding, hemorrhage, and infections are not uncommon. Menstrual disturbance, miscarriage, tubal pregnancies, and sterility are always risks and tend to multiply with successive abortions. RU-486 and other abortifacients can cause severe birth defects in any child that survives this self-induced abortion, and severe side-effects for the mother. Several maternal deaths have been reported due to the use of this “miracle pill.”
Long-term psychological and spiritual effects include guilt, anxiety, depression, anger, sense of loss, nightmares, death scenes, deterioration of self-image, and even suicide. Cervical lacerations and uterine perforation can result from suction and D&C procedures. Convulsions, severe vomiting, and diarrhea are common with prostaglandin abortion. Cardiac arrests and maternal deaths have also been reported.
A life-giving alternative
But there is hope for both the mother and the child. If you have a problem pregnancy, we want you to know that God cares for you and the unborn child growing within you. He knew about you before you were even born: “O Lord, you have searched me and known me… My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret… the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them” (from Psalm 139).
God wants to bring life—not death—out of your difficult situation. He has already provided lifelines to help you. Support is available to help you care for your child or provide a childless couple with a baby. Financial aid, emotional support, medical services, and, most important, a future free of guilt and full of hope for you and your unborn child can be yours.
Choose life today
If you picked up this pamphlet at your local crisis pregnancy center, you already know the quality of people who work there. But if not, you can look in the Yellow Pages under the heading “Abortion Alternatives” or call toll-free 1-800-848-LOVE (or go to www.nationallifecenter.com) any time, to find the nearest crisis pregnancy center. You can find someone who genuinely cares about what happens to mothers and their unborn babies.