last updated 1 July 2022
Supreme Court Decisions |
When does life start? |
Abortion Methods |
What the Bible Says: |
Religious Guidelines: |
State Laws: |
Supreme Court decisions:
In 1973 The Supreme Court decision Row vs Wade limited state's right to regulate abortion.
In 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey the court upheld Roe
In 2022 In Dobbs v. Jackson Womens Health Organizationa a conservative court overturned Row.
When does life start? Fetal Development
The whole Pro-Life argument depends on when life starts.
There are several arguments as to when Life starts depending on the fetal development process.
Conception to Embryo:
At Early Fetal Development | American Pregnancy Association
they distinguish between Gestational Age and Fetal Age.
You cannot determine exactly when conception occurred. The first sign of pregnancy is often a missed period, which happens around 15 days past ovulation (DPO). Ovulation) typically occurs 15 days after the start of the Menstrual cycle and is when conception can occur. Gestational age is the calculation that most doctors use to calculate due date, and it is based on the first day of your last menstrual period (LMP). It technically includes approximately two weeks where the woman was not pregnant.
The fetal age is another term that refers to the actual age of the baby starting at the time of conception. So typically, fetal age is going to be two weeks less than gestational age.
The first sign of pregnancy is often a missed period, which happens around 15 days past ovulation (DPO). Some women may notice symptoms as early as 5 DPO, although they wont know for certain that they are pregnant until much later.
There are various other signs of pregnancy such as:
Raised basal body temperature
As soon as the fertilized egg implants into the uterine wall, a pregnancy hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is produced.
. This means a high-quality pregnancy test could detect a pregnancy in as little as five days after conception.
There are claims that home pregnancy tests are 99% accurate, but its important to know the percentage of accuracy is not that high when the test is taken right at the time of a missed period.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, blood tests for hCG levels should be accurate 11 days after conception, while it would be best to wait 1214 days before taking a urine test.
Early signs of pregnancy can be easy to miss, especially if the person has not been pregnant before.
See 5 DPO: Early symptoms and when to take a pregnancy test
According to data from the CDC, the vast majority, or 91%, of abortions take place during the first trimester of pregnancy.
- First trimester: conception through week 12
- Second trimester: week 13 to 26 of pregnancy
- Third trimester: week 27 until the end of pregnancy, anywhere from 38 to 42 weeks for a full-term delivery
7.7% happen between weeks 14 and 20
1.2% happen at or after week 21
Heartbeat: Gestational Age Week 7 (Fetal Age: 5 weeks)
Some laws limit abortion after heartbeat.
Many have criticized these because many women do not know they are pregnant until after this time.
Fetal Stage - Gestational Age Week 8 & 9 (Fetal Age: 6-7 weeks)
Everything that is present in an adult human is present in the developing embryo and it enters the fetal stage.
If a strong heartbeat is not detected at this point, another ultrasound scan may be done to verify the viability of the fetus.
Late term abortion - Late term abortion can mean several things.
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) has made it clear that a late-term abortion has no medical meaning.
1. Late term abortion typically refers to abortions obtained at or after 21 weeks (5 months).
They represent 1% of all abortions in the US. Typically, these procedures cost well over $1,000, and normally require treatment over multiple days, and are only performed by a subset of all abortion providers.
Reasons individuals seek abortions later in pregnancy include medical concerns such as fetal anomalies or maternal life endangerment, as well as barriers to care that cause delays in obtaining an abortion.
2. Second-trimester abortions have been inaccurately called late-term abortions. But thats a confusing term because the medical definition of late term refers to pregnancy not abortion.
3. Late-term is a medical term used to describe the very end of a pregnancy, after it has reached full term, from week 41 onward.
The latest point in pregnancy that you can have an abortion in the U.S. is 24 weeks.
See What Is a Late-Term Abortion, and What Is the Timeline? - GoodRx
In a town hall with Chris Wallace during the 2020 presidential campaign Pete Buttigieg put it into perspective.
"I think the dialogue has gotten so caught up on where you draw the line, that we’ve gotten away from the fundamental question of, who gets to draw the line? "
See What Pete Buttigieg's Late Term Abortion Comments Mean For Families
In biological terms, viability is the ability to survive successfully. A fetus is considered viable if it has reached a stage of development where it is able to live outside of its mothers womb.
Doctors typically consider the 24-week mark ( 5½ months)to be the point of potential viability.
Row vs Wade specified that after viability, which includes the third trimester of pregnancy and the last few weeks of the second trimester, abortions could be regulated and even prohibited, but only if the laws provided exceptions for abortions necessary to save the "life" or "health" of the mother.
Third Trimester (26 weeks)
The Pro-Choice guidelines and most abortion clinics. generally opposed abortion in the third-trimester without extenuating circumstances .
Less than 1% of abortions take place in the third trimester.
An example of a Third Trimester abortion because of a brain development problem which would result in a short and painful life for their baby was recently documented.
Abortion In The Third Trimester: A Rare Decision Now In The Political Spotlight:: NPR
There are a variety of abortion methods from pills to surgery.
See In-Clinic Abortion Procedure | Abortion Methods PlannedParenthood
Half of abortions are now done with medication which is safe up to 10 weeks.
There have been bans on certain types of abortion. e.g.
Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act 2003 - Wikipedia
DPO - days past ovulation
Embryo - the early stage of development from just after fertilization until the fetal stage, Gestational Age Week 8 & 9 (Fetal Age: 6-7 weeks)
Fetal Stage - A prenatal human being in the womb between the embryonic stage and birth. From the ninth week after fertilization to about 38 weeks after fertilization.
hCG - Human Chorionic Gonadotropin - Hormone released on implantation. Measured in pregnancy tests.
LMP - last menstrual period
Progesterone - Progesterone is the hormone that helps maintain the pregnancy until birth.
Ultrasound - An imaging method that uses sound waves to produce images of structures within your body.
Uterus - The hollow, pear-shaped organ in a woman's pelvis. The uterus is where a fetus (unborn baby) develops and grows. Also called womb
What the Bible Says:
The only mention of the beginning of life in the Bible is in the Old Testament (based primarily the 24 books of the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh).
The Bible doesn't discuss abortion nor does it say a fetus is a human.
The clearest passage on life is Genesis 2:7,
"Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being."
It was the Pope that said life begins at conception.
The anti abortion argument uses Jeremiah 1:5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart".
Source: Where major religious groups stand on abortion | Pew Research Center, 2016
I and my family have been Presbyterian (USA) members for generations, although many if not most of our Gen-Xers are atheist or agnostic.
The Presbyterian (U.S.A) churches guidelines have generally been liberal during my lifetime.
"Currently the PC(USA)'s Social Justice and Peacemaking Unit works with the interdenominational Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice."
The now-Advocacy Committee on Women's Concerns will bring up a overture on reproductive justice at the 225th General Assembly in 2022.
See Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) - Reproductive justice and the PC(USA)
Note: The Presbyterian (U.S.A) is the largest Presbiterian denomination with about 1.2 Million members, but shrinking as Presbyterian churches leave to join other more evangelical/conservative Presbyterian denominations, primarily over same-sex marriage and related issues.
The Evangelical Presbyterian churches who oppose same-sex marriage are also pro-life. They are (membership):
Presbyterian Church In America (378K)
EPC - Evangelical Presbyterian Churches"(145K)
ECO - Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians (130K)
Pregnancy in health
Rights and the Supreme Court
What Is a Late-Term Abortion, and What Is the Timeline? - GoodRx
Islam and abortion - Wikipedia