Last weekend, Vice President Kamala Harris visited Philadelphia for a meeting with Pennsylvania lawmakers, where she spoke about the need to protect abortion. But in doing so, she ignored a basic scientific fact: the humanity of preborn children.
Harris began by discussing how the overturning of Roe v. Wade would have horrific consequences for women across the country. “We have heard more public recent stories about what this means to real people, real human beings. Not to mention the stories that have not been told and have yet to be told,” she said, adding, “The impact of this moment and what so-called leaders are doing in states around our country is having a direct impact on so many people who should have a right to make the most intimate decision that one could make.”
But what Harris ignores is that abortion affects other real human beings — those who are killed by abortion.
The first, and most controversial, proof of fetal humanity is the heartbeat. Especially in recent years, abortion advocates have tried to redefine this as nothing more than electrical pulses or meaningless twitches, but this could not be further from the truth. A preborn child’s heart is actually beating, and this is scientific fact.
It is true that a preborn child’s heart is not fully formed when it first starts beating, roughly three weeks after fertilization. There are only two chambers instead of the eventual four. But those two chambers are still beating and, more importantly, pumping blood. A video from the Endowment for Human Development (EHD), a non-partisan organization dedicated to improving health science education, and which has a vow of neutrality on controversial bioethical issues like abortion, makes this perfectly clear. In it, you can see the chambers of the heart changing color as blood is pumped through.
There is a reason, as the EHD explains, why the heart must begin beating so early in pregnancy. Without a beating heart pumping blood throughout the body, the child cannot continue to grow and thrive. This is why the circulatory system is the first to be formed.
A preborn child is a human being at every single stage of development, no matter how small he or she may be. In fact, embryological science has even been able to pinpoint the exact moment life is created. At the very moment of fertilization, she has her own unique DNA strand, completely separate from her mother. Her sex, hair color, eye color, and countless other traits have already been determined, and she simply has to grow.
After her heart begins beating, within just three weeks brain waves can be recorded and measured. She can hiccup before she reaches eight weeks gestation, and by nine weeks, she can suck her thumb, swallow, sigh, stretch, and sense light touch. All major organs are formed before the first trimester is complete.
In the second trimester, the incredible growth which began in the first trimester only continues. By 18 weeks, ultrasounds can detect movement in her voice box, indicating she is practicing for her first cry after birth. By 20 weeks, she can hear, and even remember what she hears; studies have found that preborn children can detect and differentiate between different languages in the womb.
With medical advancements, premature babies born at 21 weeks have increasingly begun to survive outside of the womb.
Kamala Harris is right that the debate on abortion affects real human beings, and this does include women and girls everywhere. But it also affects an entire group of human beings that she is content to ignore, and they happen to be the most vulnerable group of humans on the planet. Preborn children may be small, but this doesn’t rid them of their humanity.
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