The cover story of this month’s Time magazine is an excellent look of the crucial importance of the first 9 months of life in the womb.
The article, by journalist Annie Murphy Paul, is available in a truncated form on Time‘s website here. But Ms. Paul is pushing a new book she’s written on fetal origins research called Origins and the publisher has an excellent three minute interview with her, which you can watch above.
Paul became fascinated with the vast explosion of research into life in the womb and how our conditions there can have effects that last for the rest of our lives. The roots of conditions that may not manifest themselves for decades can sometimes be found in the environment in the womb when the baby was developing.
I admire Paul’s appreciation for the sense of wonder and responsibility this emerging knowledge casts over pregnancy. The idea that so much of later life is being determined in the womb makes it essential that expecting parents take care to make conditions in the womb the best they can be. In the video, some things Paul says she hopes readers will take away from her work on the subject are:
. . . a new appreciation for the nine months in the womb as a crucial staging ground for the rest of life and to recognize gestation as a new frontier in the scientific investigation of what makes us who we are . . . and to look at pregnancy as an opportunity to improve the health and well-being of the next generation.
Language is Crucial
I applaud Paul for her work on the subject and Time for publishing it. The only reservation I had about the story and the video was the tortured language she employs throughout to avoid using the word “baby” at all costs.
Photo credit: Heide Benser / Corbis
She uses “fetus” instead of “baby” with unnatural consistency. Even when speaking of her own pregnancy, which occurred during her work on the book, she refers to what was happening to “my fetus.”
Now, fetus is certainly the correct term for the unborn child at that stage of development, but I find it hard to believe she cradled her pregnant belly and cooed in dulcet tones how much she loved her fetus.
The fact is, her work makes it all the more clear what most people know already: what’s developing in the womb is a unique and unrepeatable member of the human race that deserves the same rights and protections civilized societies extend to all people.
The battle over language is crucial and our pro-abortion foes know it. I don’t know Ms. Paul’s position on abortion, but she has clearly been influenced by those who know the philosophy behind abortion is doomed if they let the child developing in the womb have the dignity of being called a baby.
But it’s interesting to note what she says elsewhere in the video:
Many of our characteristics as children, and even as adults, our physical and mental health, our susceptibility to disease and disability, our appetite and metabolism, even our intelligence and temperament, are shaped by the prenatal conditions we encountered before birth.
Scientists are learning that much of what a pregnant woman encounters in her everyday life, what she eats, the air she breathes, even the emotions she feels are shared in some fashion with her fetus creating a mix of influences that’s as particular and idiosyncratic as the woman herself. [Emphasis added]
And in fact, this research suggests that the fetus is actually taking cues from its surroundings, it’s learning and adapting to the world that it will soon enter. And that the adjustments that it makes as a result can last for the rest of its life.
Abortion advocates are forever insisting that what is in the womb is so deeply sub-human that it can be torn apart and destroyed at no moral cost. It can’t feel, it can’t think, they say.
But Paul tells us that the fetus partakes in a “mix of influences that’s as particular and idiosyncratic as the woman herself.” Something that can partake in such a matrix of influences, take cues from its surroundings and learn and adapt to the world sounds to me a lot like a separate human consciousness. It certainly does not sound like a clump of cells.
Giving Away the Store
Finally, Paul says:
I ultimately found the idea that we’re shaping and influencing our children before birth . . . a very beautiful and moving idea.
Mothers are influencing their children before birth. They are not influencing blobs of tissue, they are influencing people. The incredibly strong connection between who we are in the womb and who we are for the rest of our life is made unmistakably clear in this research. And with that, she’s given away the store.
If this information really impacts the public consciousness, the growing tide of pro-life sentiment in our country will grow into a tsunami. As Paul stated above, what we are doing to our children in the womb, we are doing to the next generation of humanity. Which means when we abort the children in the womb, we are killing the next generation of humanity. When America truly understands that, abortion in America will end.