When does life begin?

Birth is not the start of a new human life, but a change of the baby’s environment.

Scientifically speaking, human life begins in the womb (usually in the womb’s fallopian tube) when a single sperm cell from the father fertilises an egg (ovum) from the mother. At fertilisation (conception), a new, unique, living human individual is present. He or she is a unique human being, not part of the mother any more than he or she is part of the father.

At conception all the hereditary characteristics of the new human being are established, including colour of eyes, gender and build; nothing more is needed to determine the development of the embryo. All the information about how the baby is to grow and develop is contained in the original single cell at conception. Nothing is added after conception except oxygen and nutrients (food and water), the same essentials that are needed to sustain human life after birth.

Human life is a continuum of stages of development, from conception until death. The developing baby is known as:

  • zygote at the single-cell stage
  • an embryo till the end of the eighth week
  • foetus from nine weeks (when the child’s body is essentially complete and recognisable as a miniature human baby) until birth.

Humanity is not acquired but is inherent in all members of the human race, including the unborn from the moment of conception.

 

What is abortion?

Abortion ends the life of a new human being before they are born. It denies the most basic of human rights – the right to life – which is justly due to every single human being. When most people talk about abortion, they mean induced abortion – the deliberate killing of an unborn child. There are many different methods used for abortion, but whatever the method; it always ends the life of a new human being.

 

In New Zealand

Although more than 90% of abortions are certified as being done to safeguard the mother’s physical or mental health, it is widely recognised that the majority of these abortions are actually performed in response to social rather than medical problems. Abortion in New Zealand is effectively practiced on demand.

 

The Effects on Society

Abortion not only ends the life of a new, unique human being, but it also damages the lives of so many others. It is not only itself a grave injustice but it also perpetuates other social injustices. Abortion does not solve social problems, such as unstable relationships, poor housing and financial insecurity, which lead women to seek to end their pregnancies. It actually undermines the will of society – at the levels of family, peer group and government – to find humane solutions which do not involve killing a baby.

“Society has given women, men and families the message that following an abortion their life can carry on as before. This is seldom the case. Countless women and men have found that life is never the same again because, however early an abortion takes place, a mother or father loses a child.”

 

Discrimination

 

Against the disabled

All abortion involves an assumption that the lives of unborn children are of less value than other human lives, and are therefore expendable. Abortion of the disabled is not only an attack on the most vulnerable and most in need of protection, but it is also an affront to all members of the community who are disabled. It sends them the message that they are inferior to, and of less value than, the able-bodied.  In the UK there is no time limit on abortions performed on the grounds of disability.

 

Against females:

Worldwide millions of girl babies are aborted each year because they are female, especially in countries such as China and India.

 

Eugenic principles are the reverse of the principle that all human beings are of equal value, which is enshrined in religious creeds, political philosophies and judicial systems. The eugenic mentality judges others to be inferior on grounds of race or on grounds of physical, mental or social condition. This has led to attacks on the right to life of those groups, especially those deemed racially unfit, the disabled and the unborn. This kind of discrimination not only affects those whose lives are ended because of it, but it also affects the attitude of society towards those who are living with any of the conditions used as reasons for abortion. For if someone is deemed unworthy of existence because of a certain condition in the womb, how can society them claim to respect people with the same condition outside of the womb?

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