As Washington newshounds wondered whether the Trump administration will crash, the June 19 issue of “Current Biology” unveiled a new study about the eyes and brains of unborn babies that should ratchet up the pressure on those committed to aborting a million of them each year.
Let’s back up a moment to explain. Charles Darwin wrote in 1859 as if cells were stackable blocks of wood rather than the intricate factories we now know they are. The “Roe v. Wade” decision in 1973 was the great-great-grandson of “On the Origin of Species”: It disregarded the origin of babies and decreed it legal in every state to treat unborn children as if they were Lego blocks.
Doctors then knew, and through ultrasounds we now all know, what Psalm 139 teaches: In our mothers’ wombs we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Christians should never be anti-science: That’s especially true now, as science affirms Biblical truth in so many ways. Steve Meyer notes in “Signature in the Cell” and “Darwin’s Doubt” that discoveries are dooming Darwinism. Other studies -- unborn babies moving their lips to sounds they hear, and choosing to watch lights that look like faces -- should doom abortion lobby attempts to dehumanize them.
The June 19 journal article by Lancaster University’s Vincent Reid and his associates noted that the womb is not the dark place we often imagine it to be. It’s more like a room on a sunny afternoon with thin shades drawn: We probably cannot read, but we can still see. With mothers hooked up to top-notch 4-D ultrasound machines, researchers projected patterns of dots through the uterine wall and found that 39 third-trimester unborn babies were more likely to turn their heads toward face-like shapes than other shapes.
Bumper stickers rightly proclaim that abortion stops a beating heart, and we increasingly understand that it also stops a processing brain: As the “Current Biology” article proclaims, “Work on prenatal visual development suggests that visual perceptual capacities are analogous to newborn functionality well before term.” In other words, some may snicker at the tradition in eastern Mongolia of determining age by the number of full moons since conception for girls and the number of new moons since conception for boys, but counting a newborn as 9 months old is right.
Other studies show unborn babies bonding to the sounds of their moms. Responsiveness increases late in pregnancy, but researchers have found arm and leg movements beginning as soon as the ninth week after conception. By the end of the first trimester babies are reaching their hands toward their faces, eyes, and mouths, as if to quench doubts about whether they really exist. But some of this understanding is not new. The title of one journal article in 1986: “Prenatal maternal speech influences newborn’s perception of speech sounds.”
From such research two takeaways emerge. Pro-choice people tend to focus on what this means for babies their parents have chosen for survival. The Atlantic recently reported a 1980 experiment in which pregnant women “read ‘The Cat in the Hat’ to their fetuses, again and again for the last 7 weeks of their pregnancies. As soon as the babies were born, [researchers] DeCasper and Fifer gave them pacifiers. The babies could then choose to hear a recording of either The Cat in the Hat or a different children’s story, by sucking at different times. And they sucked for the cat.”
1980 -- and yet every year from 1980 to 1991, U.S. abortionists killed about 1.6 million unborn children. Some would argue that most of those 1.6 million were first- or second-trimester deaths of those who could not yet recognize “The Cat in the Hat” -- but several months’ patience, while a great virtue, is not too much to ask. It may seem too much to a young mother dumped by her boyfriend and left largely alone, but that’s why all of us should participate in or support the work of pregnancy resource centers. The same goes for efforts to promote adoption and to help single moms, and to help them get married, once children are born.
Now, thanks be to God and His servants, the enormity isn’t as great, yet we still have on our hands the blood of nearly a million children each year, and we still need to be pro-life and pro-science.