Week twenty. The halfway point. Half of my pregnancy is already behind me; half still awaits. In the past four and a half months, I’ve learned a lot about being pregnant. It has also given me a whole new way of looking at the pro-life cause. I’ve been pro-life for as long as I’ve been a practicing Catholic, but it was only after becoming pregnant that I realized exactly what some of those statistics mean.
A baby’s heart is already beating at five weeks. Five weeks. I was five weeks along when I learned that I was pregnant, but many women don’t find out that they are expecting until they are six or even seven weeks along. My pregnancy wasn’t even confirmed with my doctor until I was eight weeks, when a pregnant woman typically has her first prenatal appointment. And by that time, your baby’s heart has beaten for three weeks. Three weeks. It has pumped blood steadily, a heartbeat completely separate from your own, but pro-choice advocates would have you believe that this baby is a clump of cells. A clump of cells with a heartbeat.
A baby’s heart is already beating at five weeks. What does that mean? By the time a woman typically learns that she’s pregnant, her baby’s heart has already begun beating. Before she even knows she’s pregnant, she has a heart beating within her that is not her own.
But Planned Parenthood tells women that the entity within their wombs is just a clump of cells. It is not a human life, deserving dignity and respect. It can be removed if it is unwanted. Or if you do want it, you can keep it, and one day it’ll become a human person. But not yet.
Five weeks. That’s one month and one week. Your baby is barely the size of an apple seed (yes, an apple seed!), and he or she already has a heartbeat! While we’re at it, he or she already has a gender, though you might not find out what it is for a few more weeks. By the time a woman finds out she’s pregnant, even though her child is merely the size of an apple seed, her baby will already have a full genetic code at work. Her child’s sex, hair color, eye color, and countless other characteristics have already been determined. And that didn’t happen at five weeks. That happened at the moment of conception, several weeks earlier.
A baby is already moving at eight weeks. At that point in my pregnancy, I was still feeling pretty normal. Andrew and I had just had our first ultrasound, my proof that there really was a baby growing inside me. At eight weeks, I still had plenty of energy during the day, though I was falling asleep on the couch around 9PM every night. I was still wearing my regular clothes, and they still fit well. The only people who know that I was pregnant were the people that we had chosen to tell. And even those who knew me best wouldn’t have been able to tell that I was pregnant if I hadn’t told them myself.
According to Planned Parenthood, an eight week old baby is still more properly called a “clump of cells.” And I will admit, I couldn’t see a defined baby on that first sonogram. There was a general head region, as well as a general body region, but only the ultrasound technician could confidently tell them apart. As for me, I was happy to just listen to my little baby’s heart beat, my little baby who was already the size of a raspberry and was getting bigger by the day.
A baby is already curling his fingers and toes at twelve weeks. At this point, the fetus looks just like a very tiny infant. Her head has ceased growing so quickly, allowing the rest of her body to reach proper proportions. By twelve weeks, I was nearing the end of the first trimester, and I was anxiously awaiting the end of morning sickness. I was still wearing most of my own clothing, though many of my dresses had been retired until my postpartum days. I was nauseous and bloated, but I was already readjusting to proper meals at home with my husband. My days of cereal for dinner were finally coming to an end.
Andrew and I went for our second sonogram when I was twelve weeks along. We were both delighted and amazed as we watched our little son or daughter jumping around my uterus, lifting little arms, kicking little legs. As the technician commented about our child’s energy levels, I laughed, and we watched in amazement as our baby jumped on the screen in response. To this day, it remains one of the most memorable events of my entire pregnancy.
At twelve weeks, we were preparing to make our wonderful news public. I had written a blog post about our baby; I had ordered postcards that showed a happily married couple on their honeymoon in Disney and announced that it had also been our first family vacation. Everyone was thrilled to hear our news. We were congratulated constantly, and Andrew and I were thrilled to finally be able to share our secret.
But according to pro-choice advocates, a twelve-week old child is not a person. They are still called a “clump of cells,” though that is obviously not the case anymore. By twelve weeks, your baby has ten tiny fingers and ten tiny toes. She’s already the size of a plum. He can react to movement. She can stretch her hands and kick her legs. Most of his critical systems have already formed, and he’s about to experience yet another major growth spurt. She spent the few weeks of her life as a clump of rapidly multiplying cells, but ten weeks later there can be no question that this “clump of cells” is a human being. A human person. A human person that our country allows us to murder.
A mother can already feel her baby move between sixteen and twenty weeks. For me, it was closer to eighteen weeks. I remember the moment distinctly. I was sitting in church listening to the priest’s homily when I felt it. The slightest push. A barely noticeable, but incredibly repetitive, tap. But the feeling was unmistakable- it was my baby. And then I stood up for the General Intercessions, and it was over. I didn’t feel another tap for a week. Now I feel them all the time.
I also began to look pregnant- at least to my friends and family- around eighteen weeks. I began to incorporate my newly purchased maternity shirts in my wardrobe. I stopped wearing billowy tops, opting instead to show off my little baby bump proudly. Even now, at twenty weeks, most people probably would not automatically assume that I am pregnant, but I know that it will become more obvious in the weeks to come.
A baby is already so big at sixteen weeks that a mother can feel his movements. She’s not yet large enough for Daddy to feel movement, but that milestone will come soon enough as well. At this point, your child is already the size of an avocado or a sweet potato, and he’s just going to keep growing. But Planned Parenthood doesn’t care. Planned Parenthood thinks that women need to be able to abort their sixteen week old child in the name of her reproductive rights. We’ll ignore the fact that a sixteen week old baby girl already has her reproductive organs. She might have the necessary organs, but she will not be granted the rights that usually come with them until she has safely left the womb. Planned Parenthood claims to fight for women, but they only have certain women in mind. They ignore the most innocent and defenseless ones. They listen to the ones that can talk. And while a sixteen week old fetus can kick, grasp, and move her eyeballs beneath her lids, she cannot yet talk. In fact, she won’t be to talk for some time. But last time I checked, talking was not a prerequisite for deserving basic human rights. I thought being human was the only prerequisite, but apparently I was wrong.
At twenty weeks, the nerve cells necessary for the senses of sight, taste, hearing, and smell have formed in a baby’s brain, and she is swallowing amniotic fluid regularly for added nutrition. In fact, the amniotic fluid strengthens a child’s developing taste buds. That’s right- you’re only halfway through your pregnancy, and you’re already helping your child to develop his future food preferences. Want someone to blame for your kid’s future pickiness? Don’t go looking too far.
Twenty weeks marks a major milestone in all parents’ prenatal journey: the twenty week ultrasound and the big gender reveal that comes with it. At twenty weeks, I’m feeling great. I have a ton of energy, the nausea has all but vanished, and I’m still not carrying a lot of extra baby weight. After finding out our child’s gender (to be revealed in the coming weeks), we watched as the ultrasound technician checked our baby’s body parts and took the appropriate measurements. We laughed as our child shifted and turned, seeming to avoid the ultrasound wand intentionally. At first, the baby covered their face, hiding from us, and then suddenly their face was covering half of the screen, looking more like an alien than a child. But then they finally settled down, and we watched contently as our baby opened and closed their mouth, looking like a baby again.
It’s true- most abortions occur before the twenty week mark. In fact, only about 1% of all abortions occur after the halfway point. Most- between 89-92% of abortions- occur during the first trimester. It’s easier for Planned Parenthood to lie then. They can call the baby a clump of cells- and for the first few days, that’s what the baby looks like- rather than calling it a baby. They can ignore the baby’s beating heart and rapidly growing bodily systems. In many cases, young women who show up at Planned Parenthood to hear their “options” are denied the possibility of getting an ultrasound or hearing the heartbeat. Why? Because if that girl saw her little baby or heard its beating heart, she could very well change her mind. And that’s not an option.
It’s easy for Planned Parenthood to trick women during the first half of their pregnancies. For the first few weeks, they don’t even feel pregnant. They probably don’t even know they’re pregnant yet. And then the only proof that they are expecting is a positive pregnancy test. Most women get abortions before the morning sickness begins, before they start to show. But the truth? By the time a woman shows up at Planned Parenthood to learn her “options,” her baby already has a beating heart. In a few weeks, she’ll start squirming around inside your uterus. Then he’ll be curling his fingers and flexing his toes. A few weeks after that, a pregnant woman will start feeling her baby’s movements. And at twenty weeks, her baby will have functioning taste buds and developed sensory systems. But Planned Parenthood will still tell her that she has the right to terminate her pregnancy. She’ll be told that her baby is just a clump of cells. Planned Parenthood will lie to her.
It has only been since becoming pregnant that I have really come to understand the truth. I always knew that unborn children were human persons deserving the right to life. Now I understand the fullness of the truth with my entire being. Planned Parenthood is a liar. My baby is not a clump of cells. My baby is a human person, and he or she deserves more than anything Planned Parenthood could offer. They want to offer my child death, but I have always chosen, and will always choose, life. For years, it was life in general. It was the life of all children. Now it’s the life of my own child. But if my child deserves life, so does every other baby conceived. Every child deserves to live, and that’s the truth. And that’s why I choose life.
Mary Help of Christians, pray for us!