Nearly every pro-lifer has seen a picture of a pre-born baby on ultrasound or photographs of children in the womb. Leonard Nielsen, who pioneered intrauterine photography, published extraordinary pictures of preborn babies in his book A Child Is Born. The book has gone through multiple printings and generations have marveled at the remarkable development of human beings before birth. The website The Endowment for Human Development features videos of preborn babies moving and kicking in their mothers wombs.
Many pro-lifers have also seen the graphic and disturbing pictures of aborted babies, which show preborn children violently torn apart by the abortion instruments. Although there is controversy about showing these images in public, they have inspired pro-life people to become more active in the movement.
It seems obvious to pro-lifers that a developing child with arms, legs, fingers, and toes is a human baby. Yet many pro-choicers deny this. They claim that the child, as human as he or she appears, is not a child at all, but a “product of conception”, “just tissue” or “only a fetus.”
In 1984, researchers did a study on the effects of the abortion of disabled babies on their siblings. The study concluded that the sisters and brothers of babies aborted due to fetal anomaly (such as Down syndrome or spina bifida) suffered feelings of depression and anxiety. The study found:
In the presence of prenatal life, young children do not separate the concept of “fetus” from the concept of “baby”. The conceptual difference between the two is a medical and social construct of adults and is not easily understood by children whose approach to the world is concrete. (1)
While this study may have been the first to acknowledge that children tend to view preborn babies as real babies, pro-lifers since then have noticed the same phenomena. It seems that children -who have not been immersed in pro-choice ideology and who have not been conditioned by society to view preborn babies as less than human – see them as fellow human beings.
Pro-lifer Dr. Jean Garton, co-founder and president of Lutherans for Life and former pro-choice feminist, discovered this while writing her book Who Broke the Baby? What the Abortion Slogans Really Mean.
The book’s title came from something that Garton’s young son said to her upon seeing a picture of an aborted baby. Garton was looking at the picture when her son unexpectedly came up behind her and saw it. The child asked, in a very sad voice, “Who broke the baby?” Unlike many adults, the little boy immediately saw that the aborted fetus was a human baby. Garton argues that this was because her son had never been exposed to pro-abortion propaganda and was seeing the picture through innocent eyes. Through the innocent eyes of a child, a fetus is a baby. Children see clearly that preborn babies are not tissue to be discarded but are in fact human children.
This was brought home in an even more powerful way in the book True to Life! by pro-life activist Janet L. Folger.
Folger recounts the following story in her book:
Another time I was at the University of Cincinnati when an angry woman came up to me after my debate insisting that I use the word “fetus” instead of “child.” “It’s not a baby – it’s a fetus!” She shouted! I assured her that the two words were synonymous, but she would have nothing of it. “Quit calling it a baby!” she demanded. Right then, in the middle of our little “discussion,” her young child, pointing to the fetal models on display, declared, “Mommy! Look at the babies!” The child was yanked by the arm and as they briskly walked away, I could hear the child’s mother say, “We don’t believe that.”
Folger makes this observation:
The pro-abortion movement has a pretty tough job when you think about it. They have to overcome an obvious truth that even their own children can recognize. They can use dehumanizing terms like “fetus,” or “products of conception,” and pretend all they want, but it still doesn’t change the truth.
A child has to be taught to view a preborn baby as something other than a baby. Before being immersed in a culture that gives no value to preborn humans, children know that babies in the womb are just as human as they are.
To a child, the truth of the pro-life position is obvious. A fetus is a baby. Abortion is killing. Pro-lifers need to counter the pro-choice propaganda that eventually convinces many children to adopt the counterintuitive belief that the baby in the womb is not a child. Society works against pro-lifers in this respect, because abortion is legal. A young person may feel that if something is legal, it cannot be wrong. Surely, the US wouldn’t legalize the killing of a whole group of people?
Pro-lifers need to teach their children from a young age about the value of pre-born life. Reaching children with the pro-life message, in age-appropriate ways, of course, is often neglected but absolutely vital. Pro-lifers can take comfort in the fact that even a child can understand the pro-life position. In fact, the pro-life position is what comes naturally to a child. It is only our society, and pro-choice activists, that corrupt children’s belief in the humanity of preborn babies.
- Furlong R M, Black R B. Pregnancy Termination for Genetic Indications: the Impact on Families. Social Work inHealthcare 1984, Fall; 10 (1): 17 – 34 Elizabeth Ring-Cassidy and Ian Gentles. Women’s Health after Abortion: The Medical and Psychological Evidence Second Ed (Toronto, Canada: The deVeber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research, 2003) 164