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Why Embryos & Fetuses are Babies & Children

Abortion kills babies.

“No it doesn’t.”

Yes it does.

“No it doesn’t. Fetuses aren’t babies, so abortion doesn’t kill babies.”

Many of us have had these kinds of interactions. I’m going to explain to you why embryos and fetuses are, in fact, babies and children.

Let’s start with semantics. “Embryo” is the term for a human in a stage of development between 3 and 8 weeks gestation. “Fetus” is the term for a human in a stage of development between 9 weeks and birth. “Neonate” is the term for a human in a stage of development between birth and 1 month. “Infant” is the term for a human in the stage of development between 1 month and 1 year. All of these terms have to do with humans in their respective developments.

The term “baby” describes humans in all of the aforementioned stages of development. There is no “baby” stage of development. “Baby” is a general term that describes humans in the earliest stages of development. This is why it can also describe “embryo” and “fetus”. “Baby” is also a relational term revealing the relationship between two or more people.

“Baby” has a “parent”.

“Child” is the same concept. Though the term is used for a specific developmental age, it is also a general term that is relational. Older adults often refer to their adult sons and daughters as “my children” or “my kids”. Are they children? Well, yes and no. They are children in relation to their parents; they are the parents’ children, offspring, kids, kin, sons and daughters, etc. They are not literally in the developmental stage of a child.

No person who is saying “a fetus is a child” means it as “a fetus is the developmental stage of a child”. No. They are using it in relational terms; the fetus is a child in relationship to the mother and father. Or they are using it in the same way as “baby”, describing a human in the earliest stages of life. I have many times referred to my then infant son as my child. I was not referring to his developmental stage. That would make no sense. I also often refer to my now early childhood son as “baby”. Again, not a reference to the developmental stage.

And yes, in the previous paragraph, I referred to the people who have conceived as mother and father.

Once conception occurs, the zygote has a complete set of chromosomes, including sex chromosomes. This renders the zygote genetically male or female, rendering him or her a son or daughter of the mother and father. The son or daughter forms and grows inside the mother for around 40 weeks. This is all basic science. The son or daughter has a specific relationship with the mother. The mother provides essential nutrients and a hospitable environment for him or her to grow. He or she is not formed by the mother’s body. The mother does not cause the cells of her “baby” to multiply, grow, differentiate, etc. The baby’s body does these things on his or her own, the way it was physiologically designed to do, dictated by the combined DNA formed at conception.

Even if the fetus is unwanted by the mother, the relationship between the two, physically in the very least, is extremely unique. This is why “baby” and “child” are apt terms for an embryo and fetus. And because these are trans-developmental terms describing humans in the earliest stages of development, “baby” and “child” are accurate terms.

Thomas White

Vice President




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