Fertilization/Pregnancy/Human Development

Oklahoma’s Fetal Education Bill: a Model for the Pro-Life Movement’s Future

Among the various pro-life bills introduced at the state level, Oklahoma’s recent plan to start teaching fetal development in public schools deserves far more attention than it’s gotten so far. Banning certain abortion procedures, regulating abortionists, defunding Planned Parenthood, etc., are all important for their own sake; but each of them, and the long-term goal of ending abortion for good, are ultimately too dependent on public opinion changing on its own. Although America is opposed to abortion on balance (meaning pro-life politicians needn’t fear being more pro-active about it), self-identification as “pro-life” and “pro-choice” still fluctuates back and forth too often, without signs of a lasting, long-term spike on the horizon. We cannot simply wait for the public to decide on its own to end abortion. Education and outreach efforts from pro-life activists are valuable, but can only go so far. The key is to reach the assumptions of people, particularly future generations, who don’t already agree with, aren’t on course to cross paths with us on their own, and aren’t interested enough in abortion to proactively research it for themselves. Oklahoma has the key. Their education bill is a model for what should be one of the top state-level legislative priorities of every pro-life organization in the country. Think about it: simply requiring public schools to clearly educate students on clear, objective, undeniable facts of human biology, which are a bedrock part of one of the core subjects, should be one of the easiest sells in the world for any halfway-competent politician. Religious indoctrination? No, this is basic science. What about rape cases or Planned Parenthood? We’re just...

‘Flash of Light’ Not Needed to Prove Conception

A fluorescent flash captures the moment that sperm enzyme enters the egg — see photos at http://www.nationalrighttolifenews.org/news/2016/05/flash-of-light-not-needed-to-prove-conception/#.V0TTgvkrLIU In a May 23, 2016, National Catholic Register article, ”Contrary to Reports, There is No Flash of Light at Conception,” writer Stacy Trasancos takes some people who wrote about the amazing research article and video to task for exaggerations: “At conception, there is no flash of light, no burst of fireworks, no sparks flying, no fiat lux, no scientific proof of ensoulment, no vindication of doctrine by this research. There is a misunderstanding.” She is right that claims of ensoulment or actual “fireworks” in the mother is a misunderstanding. That is not what the authors of the research were writing about. But while I understand Ms. Trasancos’ point about the over- excitement by some writers, the phenomenon itself actually is a pretty big deal. I am a nurse, not a scientist, but I read the scientific article myself before I wrote a recent blog on the research. The researchers were not trying to make a theological or philosophical point but rather reporting a testing phenomenon: “We monitored calcium and zinc dynamics in individual human eggs using selective fluorophores following activation with calcium-ionomycin, ionomycin, or hPLC? cRNA microinjection. These egg activation methods, as expected, induced rises in intracellular calcium levels and also triggered the coordinated release of zinc into the extracellular space in a prominent “zinc spark.” For the lay audience, the truly relevant point is that there IS a moment of “human egg activation.” Using fluorescence to show a chemical reaction accompanying that moment of activation enhances the reality of when life...

The Gift of Breath & Speech

When Andrea Hasse of Michigan was pregnant with her son, Grant, he was diagnosed with a condition that has about 1% chance of survival. His airways were largely blocked and he would suffer from lack of oxygen after birth. Doctors operated at 27 weeks of pregnancy and inserted a tube through his neck to open the airway. They then delivered the baby. Grant is quite healthy. At one year of age, a doctor operated to improve the airway only to discover that Grant had no vocal chords so would never speak. The parents were happy just to have Grant as healthy as he was. The surgeon was not satisfied and made two tubes from the adjacent muscles and separated them with a graft from a rib. The parents received a great thrill when Grant uttered his first word. His vocabulary is expanding. He is expected to speak clearly, but his voice may sound a bit different. His voice will be...

More Premature Babies Surviving at 23 Weeks, Study Finds

Over the past two decades, doctors have made significant progress in saving the earliest premature babies, according to a report issued Tuesday by the Journal of the American Medical Association. Between 1993 and 2012, the study found a “significant increase in survival” of infants born prematurely at 23, 24, 25 and 27 weeks. Rosemary Higgins, program scientist for the neonatal research network at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, explained in an interview: “Extremely pre-term babies born before the 28th week are now surviving in greater numbers.” Higgins pointed to advances in medical care as a reason for the increased survival rates of premature babies: Increased use of surfactant has offered better protection for the newborns’ lungs, and steroids given to mothers in the hours or days before a pre-term birth promote development of lungs, which normally don’t mature until 34 to 36 weeks of gestation. This is not the first study of its kind. A study released earlier this year by the New England Journal of Medicine found that babies born as early as 22 weeks may survive if they are properly treated. Unfortunately, while science is proving that infants at 23 weeks or even 22 weeks of gestation can survive outside the womb, it is still legal to abort such babies in many states, as they are not considered “viable” (able to survive outside the womb). While new evidence is showing that babies may be viable earlier than 24 weeks, the abortion industry continues to push aside such science in favor of “abortion rights.” Even so, The New York Times reports that viability is...

22-23 Week Very Early Premature Babies, Video Show Humanity of Unborn Children

Video of 11-Week Baby Jumping Shows the Humanity of Preborn Children A beautiful video of a baby in utero is rapidly being shared across social media. The ultrasound shows the 11-week, 4-day-old preborn child bouncing around in the womb. [10 Aug 2015, http://liveactionnews.org/ultrasound-video-11-week-old-preborn-baby-fascinates-facebook/ ]   *** Born at 23 weeks, this micropreemie is sharing the truth about abortion Trevor Frolek came into the world at 23 weeks. At the time of his birth, he weighed in at 1 pound, 6 ounces, and like many of the babies born alive in “botched” abortions would do if given the chance, Trevor fought to stay alive. And stay alive he did. http://liveactionnews.org/born-23-weeks-micropremie-sharing-truth-abortion/ *** Born Premature at 22 Weeks, Identical Twins are Sharing the Truth about Abortion … a specialist diagnosed her with an incompetent cervix, something the other doctors had missed. Ellis’ cervix was already starting to change, as it should when the babies were ready to be delivered, but the boys were much too young to survive. “When I first went in,” Ellis said, “and they noticed that it wasn’t looking good, they offered me abortion and I just couldn’t do that.” … After the surgery, Ellis remained in the hospital for a couple of days. After being at home for just a day and a half, her water broke. Back at the hospital, Ellis wanted to keep the cerclage in and try to stop labor from starting, but doctors said there was nothing they could do. She had an infection and they had to remove the cerclage. Once they did, Ellis went into labor and had to deliver her boys,...

Immediate Pregnancy Resource Help

Pregnancy Helplines: 888-4-OPTIONS 800-712-HELP www.PregnancyDecisonLine.org   Heartbeat International — Option Line®, 24/7, via the phone 1-800-712-HELP text —  “HELPLINE” to 313131 internet — www.OptionLine.org live chat, and email, connecting those in need to life-saving help in their own community. CareNet — www.PregnancyDecisonLine.org (877-791-5475)   Everything we do saves lives and advances a culture of...

Time-Lapse Video Shows Miracle of Premature Baby’s Life

In April 2014, Walker Colt P. was born at 26-weeks and spent his first three months of life in a North Carolina neonatal intensive care unit. His parents, Erica and Jared P., were worried about Walker’s health because he only weighed a pound when he was born and was breathing with the help of a ventilator.   Click to Read Entire Article at LifeNews.com:...

Study Shows Premature Babies Can Survive at Earlier Ages, But Will Hospitals Let Them Die? (2015)

A study published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine demonstrates widespread discriminatory denial of life-preserving medical treatment to premature infants based on fear that if assisted to live they might have disabilities – in defiance of protective federal law. It provided a startling snapshot into the treatment of very premature infants. The study looked at the survival and outcomes of almost 5,000 babies born before 27 weeks gestation at 24 hospitals from 2006 -2011. It found that 23% of infants are surviving at an astonishing 22 weeks gestation (20 weeks after fertilization) with treatment, but that many hospitals deliberately deny them life-saving medical treatment. In fact, the hospital attitude made the most significant difference in the probability of survival of these very premature babies. Writing about this first major look into hospital practices regarding premature babies, Marilynn Marchione, AP’s Chief Medical Writer, explains, “There was a wide range — some hospitals always gave active treatment to the youngest preemies as opposed to just comfort care, but others never did.” According to the AP article, “Parents need to know that ‘the hospital that you go to might determine what happens to your baby’, although many parents are not in a position to shop around when they find themselves in these emergency situations,” said one study leader, Dr. Edward Bell of the University of Iowa. “In the NEJM study, five hospitals always actively treated babies at 22 weeks, but four other hospitals never did. When a baby was actively treated at 22 weeks, he or she was 18% more likely to survive than if only comfort care had...

Time Magazine’s ‘Preemie Revolution’ Illustrates How These Babies are Surviving and Thriving (2014)

A front cover photo for TIME magazine unintentionally sends as strong a pro-life message as we could ever want: “Saving Preemies: Emalyn was Due in June, She arrived in March.” … Written by Jeffrey Kluger, the home base for the story is the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. He writes a realistic but deeply optimistic profile of little David Joyce that explains the how and why of what TIME calls “A Preemie Revolution: Cutting-edge medicine and dedicated caregivers are helping the tiniest babies survive—and thrive.” At the risk of stating the abundantly obvious, the incongruity (to put it mildly) of aborting the same age baby that is tenderly, lovingly cared for by a “SWAT team” of devote specialists is hard to ignore—or understand. Babies whose lives everyone is desperately trying to save could have been—and are—aborted. Bear in mind these little ones are sensitive to pain. … and I want to share some of the amazing information embedded in [the] lengthy and powerful account. Here are four thoughts: #1 “Every decade since the 1960s, the age of viability has been reduced by a week,” Dr. Edward McCabe, medical director of the March of Dimes, tells Kluger. Kluger writes, “In 1960 the survival rate for infants under 1,500 g, or 3.3 lb., was 28%. In 2010 it was 78%, and a lot of that improvement has occurred just since the 1980s.” #2. Kluger writes objectively about the most difficult and challenging cases but adds (as he should), “Thanks to advances not available even a few years ago, the odds of surviving and...

Studies Cast Doubt on Reliability of Early Prenatal DNA Blood Tests (2015)

NBC Nightly News (5/21, story 8, 3:15, Holt) reported on “concerns” that a “new kind of genetic test given to pregnant women to check the health of their unborn” babies may “have been oversold and misunderstood.” Correspondent Kate Snow reported that “prenatal DNA tests given as early as ten weeks are marketed for their accuracy,” but “several recent medical studies and an investigation by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting casts doubt on the reliability of prenatal DNA blood tests when they have a positive result for a disease.” A 2014 study revealed that “a positive result on one popular test…could be wrong more than half of the time.” For that reason, OB-GYN Dr. Michael F. Greene, of the Massachusetts General Hospital, said, “Before a woman makes an irrevocable decision” to terminate a pregnancy, “she shouldn’t make it based only on the screening test. It must be made on the diagnostic test result.” How Reliable Are Prenatal Genetic Tests? … The pre-natal DNA tests are marketed for their accuracy and manufacturers say they are more accurate than previously available tests. The maker of the test Stacie took says that for high risk women a positive result for Edward’s Syndrome (Trisomy 18) is right 97.6 percent of the time. But several recent medical studies and an investigation by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, which appeared in the Boston Globe, cast doubt on the reliability of pre-natal DNA blood tests when they have a positive result for a disease. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine last year found that a positive result on one...

39-Week Initiative in Alabama to Delay Birth Date, 2009-2013

The 39-Week Initiative to discourage elective deliveries prior to 39 weeks gestation seems to be making progress in the state of Alabama. According to the report, Infant Mortality Alabama 2013 (page 13) produced by the Alabama Department of Public Health Center for Health Statistics, the percentage of births at 39 weeks has risen from 35.1% in 2009 to 42.7% in 2013. Births at full term, 40 weeks LMP, have increased slightly, from 15.9% in 2009 to 16.4% in 2013. Also, preterm births at 37 weeks have decreased from 12.5% in 2009 to 11.8% in 2013, and births at 38 weeks have decreased from 23.2% in 2009 to 16.6% in 2013. This is all good news for the babies in Alabama. Those extra weeks, and even extra days, provide added weight for the babies, and help the lungs and other body organs to naturally mature as they are meant to do, prior to delivery. Allowing the baby to naturally choose his or her birth date is “worth the weight”! Preterm Birth_ Percent of Births 37-40 Weeks Gestation_ Alabama...

Another Medical Expert Confirms Unborn Children Feel Severe Pain During Abortions (2015)

On May 12, 2015, David A. Prentice, Ph.D., Vice President and Research Director of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, was invited to speak on the science of fetal pain on Point of View radio talk show. On May 13, 2015 the United States House of Representatives passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act… …Dr. Prentice: That’s right. They’re going on to do this surgery on an unborn baby while still in the womb at five months or even earlier in their development. There have been a few surgeries even earlier, but they recognize that this little patient, at that point in their life – still in the womb – can experience pain. In fact, it’s interesting: the leading clinical anesthesia textbook says it’s clear that these little unborn babies can experience pain as early as 16 weeks after conception, definitely by twenty. [It says] that these little unborn babies – they use the medical term “fetus” – that they are a patient, and that it is critical to administer anesthesia directly to them. I was going to read you, this is what fetal surgeons tell the mother before they are going to go ahead and do the surgery. Listen to the almost tenderness here. It says: “You’ll be given general anesthesia, and that anesthesia will put your baby to sleep as well. In addition, during the prenatal surgery your unborn baby will be given an injection of pain medication as well medication to ensure the baby doesn’t move during the surgery.” Again, these are little patients, very tender ones, and as we said they can experience pain even more intensely...

Touching Video: Blind Mother ‘Sees’ Her Unborn Baby with 3D Ultrasound Image (2015)

[See video at link below] Tatiana Guerra, 30, is from Brazil, and was 20 weeks pregnant when this video was taken. When she was 17, she lost her sight. Courtesy of Huggies Brazil and the digital design firm, The Goodfellas, what you see on YouTube is the unfolding of a minor miracle– at least to we who are sighted and especially to those of us who grapple with understanding 3D printing. The YouTube is less than 4 minutes long. We are immediately introduced to Tatiana and “Dr. David.” He seems to have a gentle touch and a reassuring voice, the perfect bedside manner. After the opening “hellos,” the video cuts to Tatiana at home. She caresses her swollen abdomen and talks quietly and persistently to Murio. Clearly, Tatiana is passionately in love with her unborn son. “Mommy can’t wait to feel your little body, your little face, your little hands ….So come,” she says. “Mommy is counting the days. …You don’t need to be afraid.” The video cuts back to Dr. David as he is performing the ultrasound. They chat back and forth. “What does his face look like?” “His nose looks like yours,” Dr. David says. “His two little eyes are closed.” Tatiana smiles and giggles when she is told her son has a “small mouth” and a “chubby hand.” All the while a 3D printer is transforming ultrasound images of Murilo’s face into something solid. “And if…if you could touch him, would that let you know what he’s like?” “Yes,” she responds. At that juncture Dr. David hands Tatiana the 3-D sculpture of her unborn son’s face...

A Mother’s Smoking During Pregnancy May Affect the Lifetime Reproductive Health of Her Daughters

Girls whose mothers smoked while pregnant entered puberty at a younger age in a new Australian study. Since early menstruation is linked to higher risk of uterine, endometrial and breast cancers later in life, the researchers say that maternal smoking could set up daughters for health problems even before they’re born. “The real take home message of this study is that we have probably just hit the tip of the iceberg in terms of understanding just how harmful smoking during pregnancy can be on the child,” said lead author Alison Behie, a biological anthropologist at Australian National University in Canberra. Behie notes that the potential effects of smoking during pregnancy have been known for a long time, and can show up at birth or later on in childhood and adolescence. Health risks children may face when mothers smoke during pregnancy include low birth weight, asthma, type 2 diabetes and obesity, according to Behie. But recent research is beginning to reveal how some effects may evolve over the very long term and have an impact well into adulthood. “This study not only highlights the risk of reproductive cancers for daughters of women who smoke in pregnancy but suggests why this might occur at a biological level,” she told Reuters Health in an email. “The behaviors and condition of mothers during pregnancy are extremely important for the health of their children long into the future.” For the new study, published in the journal Human Reproduction, the researchers evaluated data on almost 1,500 girls that included information about their mothers’ smoking history and followed the girls from birth until they were 12...

Babies “Serenaded” in the Womb Have More Developed Language Centers

Babies played recordings of their mother’s voice while they were in the womb were born with a more developed auditory cortex – the brain’s language-processing center. What’s more fun than the latest example of how much the unborn child can learn? The latest news is courtesy of Ben Spencer, science reporter for The Daily Mail newspaper, based on an ingenious study by researchers at Harvard. It’s long been known, as Spencer put it, that “The sound of a mother’s voice is one of the first sensory experiences a tiny baby has as they develop in the womb” and that babies “are able to recognize certain elements of language from the moment of their birth.” What the new research (published in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”) demonstrates is that the auditory cortex – the brain’s language center—is more developed in babies “serenaded” in the womb. How this was shown is truly clever. Study leader Dr. Amir Lahav and colleagues at Brigham and Women’s Hospital carried their tests out on babies who were born extremely prematurely—between 25 and 32 weeks—who would ordinarily still be in the womb. They divided the 40 infants into two groups. Spencer reports One group was played three hours of audio recordings of their mother’s voice and heartbeat every day for a month – at which time they would still have been in the womb during a normal birth. The infants in the second group only heard routine background hospital noise. What did they find, scanning the brains of each baby after 30 days? In layman’s terms that the babies who listened to...

Fetal Pain: The Evidence at www.doctorsonfetalpain.org

The eleven points below summarize the substantial medical and scientific evidence that unborn children can feel pain by 20 weeks after fertilization. www.doctorsonfetalpain.org 1: Pain receptors (nociceptors) are present throughout the unborn child’s entire body by no later than 20 weeks after fertilization and nerves link these receptors to the brain’s thalamus and subcortical plate by no later than 20 weeks. 2: By 8 weeks after fertilization, the unborn child reacts to touch. After 20 weeks, the unborn child reacts to stimuli that would be recognized as painful if applied to an adulthuman, for example by recoiling. 3: In the unborn child, application of such painful stimuli is associated with significant increases in stress hormones known as the stress response. 4: Subjection to such painful stimuli is associated with long-term harmful neurodevelopmental effects, such as altered pain sensitivity and, possibly, emotional, behavioral, and learning disabilities later in life. 5: For the purposes of surgery on unborn children, fetal anesthesia is routinely administered and is associated with a decrease in stress hormones compared to their level when painful stimuli are applied without such anesthesia. 6: The position, asserted by some medical experts, that the unborn child is incapable of experiencing pain until a point later in pregnancy than 20 weeks after fertilization predominately rests on the assumption that the ability to experience pain depends on the cerebral cortex and requires nerve connections between the thalamus and the cortex. However, recent medical research and analysis, especially since 2007, provides strong evidence for the conclusion that a functioning cortex is not necessary to experience pain. 7: Substantial evidence indicates that children born...

A Scientific View of When Life Begins

The question of when human life begins has been answered in a variety of ways by different religious and philosophical traditions throughout the ages, leading many to conclude the question cannot be definitively answered. Yet what does science tell us about when life begins?[1] One of the basic insights of modern biology is that life is continuous, with living cells giving rise to new types of cells and, ultimately, to new individuals. Therefore, in considering the question of when a new human life begins, we must first address the more fundamental question of when a new cell, distinct from sperm and egg, comes into existence. The scientific basis for distinguishing one cell type from another rests on two criteria: differences in what something is made of (its molecular composition) and differences in how the cell behaves. These two criteria are universally agreed upon and employed throughout the scientific enterprise. They are not “religious” beliefs or matters of personal opinion. They are objective, verifiable scientific criteria that determine precisely when a new cell type is formed. Based on these criteria, the joining (or fusion) of sperm and egg clearly produces a new cell type, the zygote or one-cell embryo. Cell fusion is a well studied and very rapid event, occurring in less than a second. Because the zygote arises from the fusion of two different cells, it contains all the components of both sperm and egg, and therefore this new cell has a unique molecular composition that is distinct from either gamete. Thus the zygote that comes into existence at the moment of sperm-egg fusion meets the first scientific criterion...