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Letter to the editor: Consider the source in testimony about life

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - 12:01 am

May I respond to Judy Harris’ letter to the editor of Feb. 19 wherein she “mourns the increasing standards, rules and policies placed on women and legitimate abortion facilities”? Because of incredible technological advances in science and medicine in the 40 years since Roe v. Wade, we now so much more about the developing fetus.

I am inviting you, Judy, and others among readership who call themselves pro-choice (as I once did) to consider the following facts about them according to the Mayo Clinic, the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the Fetal Medicine Foundation, among others. There is a remarkable accuracy, usually occurring within a few days’ difference among all fetuses, to wit:

Four days after the egg is fertilized, it begins producing the hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). A baby’s heart begins to beat 22 days from conception and is pumping blood through a closed circulatory system. At week five of pregnancy, the gastrointestinal tract begins to develop.

Between six and seven weeks, the brain develops into five areas: Some cranial nerves are visible, and brainwaves can be detected. The heart continues to develop and now beats at a regular rhythm. Rudimentary blood moves through the main vessels.

Between seven and nine weeks, the umbilical cord forms, fingers and toes form, and movement begins. At eight weeks’ gestation the lungs begin to form. By nine weeks, elbows and toes are visible, and hair follicles form. Tooth buds and eyelids form during the 10th week.

By 11 and 12 weeks from conception, the baby is breathing fluid steadily and can swallow. It is also during this time that formation of sex organs, fingernails and toenails occurs.

One-of-a-kind fingerprints have formed on every unborn child’s hands by 14 weeks. Between 13 and 15 weeks, a baby’s taste buds are present and functioning.

Sixteen to 20 weeks after conception, a baby is capable of hearing his or her mother’s heartbeat and external noises like music.

Those in the scientific and medical research communities have been unable to arrive at a consensus, hotly debating the point at which the unborn can feel pain. Some, including Planned Parenthood, say 20 weeks. Others maintain it is eight weeks, about the time most surgical abortions occur. So one question remains after 40 years: Whose testimony is more reliable, Judy, those who have a financial interest in the availability of abortion or those who don’t?

Becky Osbun