What is the Unborn Child?

An ‘Unborn Child’ is the youngest form of human being – a baby in the womb being gestated by her mother – and is always killed in the process of direct abortion. An unborn child is usually referred to as a ‘Foetus’ (after eight weeks gestation) or an ‘Embryo’ (prior to eight weeks gestation).

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Often, abortion lobbyists will try to abuse this language, referring to unborn children as ‘foetuses’ and implying that this somehow denies either the humanity or the consequent personhood of the baby in the womb. This dehumanising approach to language is an historic one, and a tactic used by every sub-humanist lobby and ideology. Ironically however, it is precisely the word ‘foetus’ that proves the reality that the abortion lobby is so desperate to deny.

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A ‘Foetus’ is defined as:

‘… an unborn human more than eight weeks after conception’.

Fetus is a Latin word that originally meant “the bearing or hatching of young, a bringing forth”, or “offspring, brood”, and was adopted into English to mean “the young while in the womb or egg”.

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An ‘Embryo’ is defined as:

‘[A]n unborn human, especially in the first eight weeks from conception, after implantation but before all the organs are developed’.

Embryo comes from the Greek εμβρυον (embruon) meaning “young one”.

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Notice that in either case, these technical terms are defined as referring to an ‘unborn human’. This indicates why we use the term ‘unborn child’. ‘Unborn’ means:

‘(Of a baby) not yet born’.

‘Baby’ is defined as:

‘A very young child’.

A ‘Child’ being:

‘A young human being below the age of puberty or below the legal age of majority’.

So, when we talk about a ‘foetus’ or an ‘embryo’, we are in fact talking about an unborn human being: a ‘child’, specifically a ‘baby’ in the womb. Since contained within the definition of ‘Foetus’ is ‘Unborn’, an word that can only be used “of a baby”, a ‘Foetus’ is a ‘Baby’ by sheer definition.

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The humanity of the unborn child is confirmed not just by conventional language, but by what informs this: science itself. Serious embryological textbooks illustrate this point.

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The embryologist William J. Larsen stated on the first page of his work, Human Embryology:

‘… [W]e begin our description of the developing human with the formation and differentiation of the male and female sex cells or gametes, which will unite at fertilisation to initiate the embryonic development of a new individual’.

Or, as Signorelli et al put it (Kinases, phosphatases and proteases during sperm capacitation, Cell and Tissue Research, 349(3):765, March 20, 2012):

“Fertilisation is the process by which male and female haploid gametes (sperm and egg) unite to produce a genetically distinct individual”.

‘Fertilisation’ is another term for ‘Conception’, the fusing of the sperm and egg to become a new entity altogether: a new individual human. Moore and Persaud in their The Developing Human: Clinically Orientated Embryology, describe this first form of embryonic human being created at fertilisation, the ‘Zygote’, as:

‘[T]he beginning of each of us as a unique individual’.

O’Rahilly and Müller in Human Embryology & Teratology likewise call conception:

‘[T]he beginning of a new human being’.

This is also confirmed by the more honest abortion lobby supporters. As Prof. Peter Singer of Princeton University – who is so supportive of legal abortion that he agrees with infanticide outside of the womb – wrote in his Writings on an Ethical Life (pp. 160-161):

‘It is possible to give ‘human being’ a precise meaning. We can use it as equivalent to ‘member of the species Homo Sapiens’. Whether a being is a member of a given species is something that can be determined scientifically, by an examination of the nature of the chromosomes in the cells of living organisms. In this sense, there is no doubt that from the first moments of its existence an embryo conceived from human sperm and eggs is a human being’.

From her very conception then, the unborn child is always undeniably a new individual human being, and this is a matter of biological fact.

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The undeniable humanity of the unborn child is important, because morally and legally human beings have human rights.

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The Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that:

‘[R]ecognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world’.

Consequently, Article 1 of the Declaration refers to “[a]ll human beings” being free and equal in dignity and rights, and Article 2 states that:

‘Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status’.

Article 7 of the continues this assertion of the equality of all human beings:

‘All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination’.

This equality (without any discrimination) in rights and freedoms protected by law, includes the most fundamental rights as recognised in Article 3:

‘Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person’.

That this applies as much to unborn children as it does to born children and adults, is reaffirmed by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (to which the UK, and thus the Isle of Man, is signatory):

‘Bearing in mind that, as indicated in the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, “the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth”…’

This means that the legal protection for the rights recognised in Article 6 of that convention apply just as much ‘before birth’ to the unborn child, as they do ‘after birth’ to newborns and older children:

1) States Parties recognise that every child has the inherent right to life.
2) States Parties shall ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child.

Here then, is our conclusion: According to conventional (non-dehumanising) language, biological science, philosophical reasoning, and international law, the unborn children is the youngest form of human being – a baby in the womb being gestated by her mother – and by virtue of being a human is therefore also a person, a being possessing dignity and rights, including the right to life.

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It is this recognition of human equality that forms the basis for our campaign for humanity and equality in abortion reform.

0-4 weeks

Conception takes place in the fallopian tube when a single male sperm and female ovum meet and fuse together to form a new, genetically unique, human being. This is also called ‘fertilisation’, as the sperm ‘fertilises’ the ovum. It is misleading to refer to this new organism as a ‘fertilised egg’, however, as neither the sperm nor the egg any longer exist. Rather, the unborn child at this first phase of her human development is a single celled ‘zygote’. Shortly after, she will begin to grow, dividing to become a ‘conceptus’, ‘morula’, and finally ‘blastule’.

About six days after conception the blastule forms a hollow cavity, known as a blastocyst, which attaches itself to the lining of her mother’s uterus. This is called ‘implantation’, and begins ‘pregnancy’ (from the Latin praegnant, probably from prae- ‘before’ and –gnasci, ‘be born’.) From now on, the unborn child will be ‘gestated’ (from gestare ‘carry / carry in the womb’), or sustained by her mother, who at this point is now considered to be three weeks pregnant because it is approximately three weeks since her last period.

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What right-to-life protections does she have?

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In Manx Law:

Flag_of_the_Isle_of_Mann.svg

Some. Abortion on demand is not legal, or practised, on the Isle of Man. At 0-4 weeks it is legal to end pregnancy however, including through killing the child, if:

•  The baby has a disability
•  There is a risk to the life of the mother greater than if the pregnancy were ended
• When pregnancy has occurred as a result of sexual assault
• Abortion is deemed necessary to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical health, or mental health of the mother

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In British Law (excl. Northern Ireland):

Flag of Great Britain

Effectively, none. Abortion on demand is not legal, but it is the de facto reality in practice. Strictly, it is only legal to end pregnancy, including through killing the child, on the following grounds:

• The baby has a disability (‘Ground E’)           
• There is a risk to the life of the mother greater than if the pregnancy were ended (‘Ground A’), or to save the life of the mother in emergencies (‘Ground F’)
• Abortion is deemed necessary to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical health, or mental health of the mother (‘Ground B’), including in emergencies (‘Ground G’)
• Abortion is deemed necessary to prevent risk, greater than if the pregnancy were ended, to the physical or mental health of the mother (‘Ground C’)
• Abortion is deemed necessary to prevent risk, greater than if the pregnancy were ended, to the physical or mental health of any existing child(ren) of the family of the mother (‘Ground E’)

Since, however, the law does not require ‘Ground C’ abortions for mental health to be signed off by a consultant psychiatrist, or for there to be any formal classification of the alleged mental health condition, this is routinely abused to provide abortions for any reason whatever. In Britain, babies at 0-4 weeks may be aborted on demand.

4-8 weeks 

In this period, the breathing and digestive systems, including the lungs, stomach, gut, and bladder develop, as do the heart, blood vessels, muscles, bones, brain and nervous system, eye lenses, tooth enamel, nails, and skin.  A string of blood vessels from the baby connects her to her mother, and will become the umbilical cord.

The foundations for all the major organs are in place by the fifth week, and the baby’s beating heart can sometimes be detected at six week on a vaginal ultrasound. By the seventh week, the nervous system is really developing, and the beginnings of arms and legs have become visible as small limb buds, with little dimples on the side of the head becoming the ears. There are thickenings where the eyes will be, and the baby is covered with a thin layer of see-through skin.

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What right-to-life protections does she have?

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In Manx Law:

Flag_of_the_Isle_of_Mann.svg

Some. Abortion on demand is not legal, or practised, on the Isle of Man. At 4-8 weeks it is legal to end pregnancy however, including through killing the child, if:

•  The baby has a disability
•  There is a risk to the life of the mother greater than if the pregnancy were ended
• When pregnancy has occurred as a result of sexual assault
• Abortion is deemed necessary to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical health, or mental health of the mother

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In British Law (excl. Northern Ireland):

Flag of Great Britain

Effectively, none. Abortion on demand is not legal, but it is the de facto reality in practice. Strictly, it is only legal to end pregnancy, including through killing the child, on the following grounds:

• The baby has a disability (‘Ground E’)
• There is a risk to the life of the mother greater than if the pregnancy were ended (‘Ground A’), or to save the life of the mother in emergencies (‘Ground F’)
• Abortion is deemed necessary to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical health, or mental health of the mother (‘Ground B’), including in emergencies (‘Ground G’)
• Abortion is deemed necessary to prevent risk, greater than if the pregnancy were ended, to the physical or mental health of the mother (‘Ground C’)
• Abortion is deemed necessary to prevent risk, greater than if the pregnancy were ended, to the physical or mental health of any existing child(ren) of the family of the mother (‘Ground E’)

Since, however, the law does not require ‘Ground C’ abortions for mental health to be signed off by a consultant psychiatrist, or for there to be any formal classification of the alleged mental health condition, this is routinely abused to provide abortions for any reason whatever. In Britain, babies at 4-8 weeks may be aborted on demand.

8-12 weeks 

The baby has now reached the ‘foetal’ stage of development (usually thought of as beginning at eight weeks, though some American authorities put this at nine weeks), as the baby now has external human form. Everything is now present that will be found in a developed adult, including all her organs: Her heart has been beating for more than a month, her stomach produces digestive juices and her kidneys are functioning. Forty muscle sets begin to operate in conjunction with the nervous system. At this stage the cartilage begins to change to real bone cells.

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What right-to-life protections does she have?

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In Manx Law:

Flag_of_the_Isle_of_Mann.svg

Some. Abortion on demand is not legal, or practised, on the Isle of Man. At 8 weeks it is legal to end pregnancy however, including through killing the child, if:

•  The baby has a disability
•  There is a risk to the life of the mother greater than if the pregnancy were ended
• When pregnancy has occurred as a result of sexual assault
• Abortion is deemed necessary to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical health, or mental health of the mother

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In British Law (excl. Northern Ireland):

Flag of Great Britain

Effectively, none. Abortion on demand is not legal, but it is the de facto reality in practice. Strictly, it is only legal to end pregnancy, including through killing the child, on the following grounds:

• The baby has a disability (‘Ground E’)           
• There is a risk to the life of the mother greater than if the pregnancy were ended (‘Ground A’), or to save the life of the mother in emergencies (‘Ground F’)
• Abortion is deemed necessary to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical health, or mental health of the mother (‘Ground B’), including in emergencies (‘Ground G’)
• Abortion is deemed necessary to prevent risk, greater than if the pregnancy were ended, to the physical or mental health of the mother (‘Ground C’)
• Abortion is deemed necessary to prevent risk, greater than if the pregnancy were ended, to the physical or mental health of any existing child(ren) of the family of the mother (‘Ground E’)

Since, however, the law does not require ‘Ground C’ abortions for mental health to be signed off by a consultant psychiatrist, or for there to be any formal classification of the alleged mental health condition, this is routinely abused to provide abortions for any reason whatever. In Britain, babies at 8 weeks may be aborted on demand.

12-16 weeks 

The baby’s features are now becoming more defined. Her lips open and close, she wrinkles her forehead, she raises her eyebrows, she turns her head. They may not seem to be, but the baby’s eyes are covered by eyelids. Fingernails grow on her hands and feet, her spinal column becomes bony, and little outgrowths of (what will become) breasts appear upon her chest.

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What right-to-life protections does she have?

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In Manx Law:

Flag_of_the_Isle_of_Mann.svg

Some. Abortion on demand is not legal, or practised, on the Isle of Man. At 12 weeks it is legal to end pregnancy however, including through killing the child, if:

•  The baby has a disability
•  There is a risk to the life of the mother greater than if the pregnancy were ended
• When pregnancy has occurred as a result of sexual assault
• Abortion is deemed necessary to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical health, or mental health of the mother

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In British Law (excl. Northern Ireland):

Flag of Great Britain

Effectively, none. Abortion on demand is not legal, but it is the de facto reality in practice. Strictly, it is only legal to end pregnancy, including through killing the child, on the following grounds:

• The baby has a disability (‘Ground E’)
• There is a risk to the life of the mother greater than if the pregnancy were ended (‘Ground A’), or to save the life of the mother in emergencies (‘Ground F’)
• Abortion is deemed necessary to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical health, or mental health of the mother (‘Ground B’), including in emergencies (‘Ground G’)
• Abortion is deemed necessary to prevent risk, greater than if the pregnancy were ended, to the physical or mental health of the mother (‘Ground C’)
• Abortion is deemed necessary to prevent risk, greater than if the pregnancy were ended, to the physical or mental health of any existing child(ren) of the family of the mother (‘Ground E’)

Since, however, the law does not require ‘Ground C’ abortions for mental health to be signed off by a consultant psychiatrist, or for there to be any formal classification of the alleged mental health condition, this is routinely abused to provide abortions for any reason whatever. In Britain, babies at 12 weeks may be aborted on demand.

16-20 weeks 

The baby’s body has begun to crowd her living quarters. Her head, neck and spine curve to follow the circular uterine cavity. The baby now occupies all the room in her mother’s pelvis. The first thin transparent layer of skin begins to replace the temporary protective membrane. The eyes are still closed and her nose, eyes and lips and ears are shaping up.

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What right-to-life protections does she have?

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In Manx Law:

Flag_of_the_Isle_of_Mann.svg

Some. Abortion on demand is not legal, or practised, on the Isle of Man. At 16 weeks it is legal to end pregnancy however, including through killing the child, if:

•  The baby has a disability
•  There is a risk to the life of the mother greater than if the pregnancy were ended
• Abortion is deemed necessary to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical health, or mental health of the mother

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In British Law (excl. Northern Ireland):

Flag of Great Britain

Effectively, none. Abortion on demand is not legal, but it is the de facto reality in practice. Strictly, it is only legal to end pregnancy, including through killing the child, on the following grounds:

• The baby has a disability (‘Ground E’)
• There is a risk to the life of the mother greater than if the pregnancy were ended (‘Ground A’), or to save the life of the mother in emergencies (‘Ground F’)
• Abortion is deemed necessary to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical health, or mental health of the mother (‘Ground B’), including in emergencies (‘Ground G’)
• Abortion is deemed necessary to prevent risk, greater than if the pregnancy were ended, to the physical or mental health of the mother (‘Ground C’)
• Abortion is deemed necessary to prevent risk, greater than if the pregnancy were ended, to the physical or mental health of any existing child(ren) of the family of the mother (‘Ground E’)

Since, however, the law does not require ‘Ground C’ abortions for mental health to be signed off by a consultant psychiatrist, or for there to be any formal classification of the alleged mental health condition, this is routinely abused to provide abortions for any reason whatever. In Britain, babies at 16 weeks may be aborted on demand.

20-24 weeks 

The baby’s mother has definitely begun to feel movement by now. If a sound is especially loud, the baby may jump in reaction to it. His or her mother will also feel her hiccups. She might sit upright with straightened back and legs crossed in a yoga-like position or she could be lounging back with her arms folded under her head. The baby may pedal her legs, make crawling movements, roll over or turn somersaults.

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What right-to-life protections does she have?

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In Manx Law:

Flag_of_the_Isle_of_Mann.svg

Some. Abortion on demand is not legal, or practised, on the Isle of Man. At 20 weeks it is legal to end pregnancy however, including through killing the child, if:

•  The baby has a disability
•  There is a risk to the life of the mother greater than if the pregnancy were ended
• Abortion is deemed necessary to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical health, or mental health of the mother

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In British Law (excl. Northern Ireland):

Flag of Great Britain

Effectively, none. Abortion on demand is not legal, but it is the de facto reality in practice. Strictly, it is only legal to end pregnancy, including through killing the child, on the following grounds:

• The baby has a disability (‘Ground E’)
• There is a risk to the life of the mother greater than if the pregnancy were ended (‘Ground A’), or to save the life of the mother in emergencies (‘Ground F’)
• Abortion is deemed necessary to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical health, or mental health of the mother (‘Ground B’), including in emergencies (‘Ground G’)
• Abortion is deemed necessary to prevent risk, greater than if the pregnancy were ended, to the physical or mental health of the mother (‘Ground C’)
• Abortion is deemed necessary to prevent risk, greater than if the pregnancy were ended, to the physical or mental health of any existing child(ren) of the family of the mother (‘Ground E’)

Since, however, the law does not require ‘Ground C’ abortions for mental health to be signed off by a consultant psychiatrist, or for there to be any formal classification of the alleged mental health condition, this is routinely abused to provide abortions for any reason whatever. In Britain, babies at 20 weeks may be aborted on demand.

24-30 weeks 

Her oil and sweat glands are functioning. The delicate skin is protected from the foetal wa­ters by a special ointment called vernix. She opens her eyes when the eyelids become unsealed. She may blink if there is a sudden noise. For the last few weeks she has virtually all the neurons she will ever have in her brain. Variations in her heart beat can be recorded. She is now ‘viable’ (she would survive outside the womb if she was born early).

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What right-to-life protections does she have?

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In Manx Law:

Flag_of_the_Isle_of_Mann.svg

She is now fully protected. It is stipulated in the 1995 Act that pregnancy be ended after 24 weeks in such a way that the baby will survive. As a consequence, no unborn child is killed after this point. Pregnancy may be ended up to birth, if:

•  The baby has a disability
•  There is a risk to the life, physical health, or mental health of the mother

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In British Law (excl. Northern Ireland):

Flag of Great Britain

Now, she has some. After 24 weeks, the ‘upper limit’ comes into effect for abortion due to a risk to mental health. This means abortion on demand is not available after this point.

There is, however, no provision in British law that pregnancy be ended after 24 weeks in such a way that the baby will survive. As a consequence, when abortion does occur, babies are intentionally killed. The standard medical practice is to inject a salt solution into the baby’s heart, causing her to have a fatal heart attack. Her body is then either delivered or removed piece by piece. It is legal to end pregnancy, including through killing the child, and up to birth, if:

•  The baby has a disability
•  There is a risk to the life of the mother greater than if the pregnancy were ended
• Abortion is deemed necessary to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical health, or mental health of the mother

30 weeks to birth

The baby is now using the four senses: vision, hearing, taste and touch. She recognises her mother’s voice. There is still space enough for her to straighten up, as she puts her hand to her mouth to suck her thumb. Her eyes are open, her eyelids are fringed with lashes, and she often moves her eyes as if searching for something to see. The amniotic fluid is reduced by half to allow the baby room to grow. She is gaining weight quickly and by the end of the seventh month may weigh 1.8 kgs.

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What right-to-life protections does she have?

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In Manx Law:

Flag_of_the_Isle_of_Mann.svg

She is now fully protected. It is stipulated in the 1995 Act that pregnancy be ended after 24 weeks in such a way that the baby will survive. As a consequence, no unborn child is killed after this point. Pregnancy may be ended up to birth, if:

•  The baby has a disability
•  There is a risk to the life, physical health, or mental health of the mother

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In British Law (excl. Northern Ireland):

Flag of Great Britain

Now, she has some. After 24 weeks, the ‘upper limit’ comes into effect for abortion due to a risk to mental health. This means abortion on demand is not available after this point.

There is, however, no provision in British law that pregnancy be ended after 24 weeks in such a way that the baby will survive. As a consequence, when abortion does occur, babies are intentionally killed. The standard medical practice is to inject a salt solution into the baby’s heart, causing her to have a fatal heart attack. Her body is then either delivered or removed piece by piece. It is legal to end pregnancy, including through killing the child, and up to birth, if:

•  The baby has a disability
•  There is a risk to the life of the mother greater than if the pregnancy were ended
• Abortion is deemed necessary to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical health, or mental health of the mother