One thing that can get lost in the rhetoric about abortion is what happens in the fetal development in the womb. The story begins around the 14th day of a 28-day menstrual cycle when an ovary releases an egg. When the sperm fertilizes the egg, the zygote, as it’s called, contains a mixture of genetic information from both parents. Fertilization usually occurs in the fallopian tube near the ovary that produced the egg.
This already growing zygote must travel to the uterus to implant itself. If the zygote lodges in the wrong place, such as in a fallopian tube, the result is a medical emergency called an ectopic pregnancy. Such a pregnancy can rupture the tube, leading to internal bleeding that can cause the mother’s death.
Once the zygote attaches in the uterus, the mother produces the hormones that nourish and protect it, allowing the growth process to continue. What might be considered a “heartbeat” can be detected long before there are chambers and valves that make up the human heart. Specialized cells create a heart tube that produces a fluttering electrical activity that can be heard with a stethoscope or detected by an ultrasound machine.
When pain signals come from the senses, they must travel to the brain’s cortex which develops at about weeks 24 or 25 of pregnancy. It is amazing that by the end of the first trimester, the developing baby has every organ it will ever have throughout its life. They merely continue to grow and develop.
People used to justify slavery by saying that blacks were humans but not persons. Nobody can support such a distinction from a scientific or moral standpoint. Yet, some have used the same failed logic to justify abortion.
The complexities of reproduction are so massive that there is still much that science doesn’t understand. Nevertheless, it is incredible that an atheist can look at the fetal development in the womb and not be amazed at the beauty and wonder of its design. “For it was you who created my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise you because I have been remarkably and wondrously made” (Psalms 139:13-14a CSB).
— John N. Clayton © 2022
References: Science News for July 16 & 30, 2022, page 6-7; Skeptic Magazine, Volume 27 # 2 2022, page 22.