Ultrasound at 24 weeks of development.
BBC NEWS Health Scans uncover secrets of the womb
“The images have shown:
-From 12 weeks, unborn babies can stretch, kick and leap around the womb - well before the mother can feel movement
-From 18 weeks, they can open their eyes although most doctors thought eyelids were fused until 26 weeks
-From 26 weeks, they appear to exhibit a whole range of typical baby behaviour and moods, including scratching, smiling, crying, hiccuping, and sucking.
Until recently it was thought that smiling did not start until six weeks after birth.”
If I could wave a magic wand and overturn Roe v. Wade I would not do it. If a Supreme Court decided that the US Constitution can not be construed to contain a right to abortion I would not be upset that it would become a state rather than a federal issue. I am sympathetic to the concerns of life advocates. Partial birth abortion is not a simply a medical procedure, it is the killing of a child. We must have a PBA ban upheld by the courts. Life does not start at birth, it starts some time before.
I read an article several months ago about the new the new 3D ultrasound imaging (and I heard about it on NPR), so I went to check out what everyone was raving about. The images are impressive.
Here are some images from the BBC
Here are more images using the new ultrasound technology from about.com
As I looked at the images it occurred to me that perhaps some of these unborn babies were still early enough to be aborted. There was no political subtext to anything I had heard about this new technology up to that point. I figured ones past 12 weeks could not be, since abortions are not normally done after the first trimester. Then it occurred to me that I didn't really know that for certain, that is just what I had heard. I decided to google it, to try to find a website with information on how late an abortion could be had in this country. I expected to find shrill, polemical, angry anti-abortion websites when I typed in "25 weeks abortion." I did find some of that, but what I also found was web advertisements for late abortions. I found one page
of links to websites for clinics in 23 states offering abortion on demand until at least 22 weeks from the last menstrual period, some as late as 26 weeks.
Dr. Hern is a heavy web advertiser.
It's hard to search the net for abortion information and not find his ads. He has even paid to have a sponsored link for the search term "third trimester abortion" at Google
. His services include: "Outpatient elective abortion through 26 weeks from the last menstrual period." They are trying to sell a service, so the description provided on this type of website for the procedures are certainly presented in way that make it seem as inoffensive as possible. Yet the descriptions are still disturbing, especially after seeing an ultrasound image of a baby blinking and smiling at 26 weeks of development.
At the point at which a baby can live independently outside the mother's body nobody should have the right to kill that baby. If the doctor could induce labor or remove the baby by cesarean section then the doctor should not kill the baby. At some point it stops being "reproductive rights" for the mother and becomes an issue of human rights for the child.
What is the point at which a life is a life? I don't think it happens at the moment of conception. So somewhere between the extremes of the moment of conception and the moment of birth there should no longer be elective abortions performed. Since the majority of people in the US are pro-choice and the majority of people also oppose partial birth abortions I suspect most people fall somewhere in between the extremes as I do. I think that the pendulum has swung too far toward one extreme and it is time for it to swing back in the other direction. This is not an issue of religion. France is probably the most aggressively secular nation on the planet; in France abortions are "available on demand until the tenth week of pregnancy on condition that they undergo counselling on alternatives and observe a one-week waiting period
." I don't agree with the French on much, but I think they have a better policy on abortion than we have in the US.