Need help with human biology & physiology against pro-aborters


Does anyone here have a good grasp of fetal development?

I have been debating whether the fetus is alive with somene at a Yahoo newsboard & believe I was holding my own until a bioinformaticist showed up & started annihilating many of my supports. I need help! The exchange has been and possibly still is being viewed by at least 7 other people considering themselves “pro-choice”. It would be nice to at least leave someone with some doubts. Can anyone help?


What sort of arguments are these people putting up on the boards? How is “alive” being defined? I’d be interested to know… Can a blastula survive left to its own devices? No. Does it perform the functions of living organisms (reproduction, growth, differentiation, &c.)? Yes. I’d really like to know more about the discussion that’s on topic!



Have you seen this web-site:

A video clip may be worth a thousand words.


This is the link. The news article that triggered it is hyperlinked at the top of the page.

I am registered there as “sola_gratia_77x7” and have been debating with a rather sneering woman named “ringoagain”. The bioinformaticist is “friendtrilobite”. (He or she says something like they search for migrating nerve cells in developing fetuses for a living.) Ringoagain just keeps changing the subject and trying to manipulate the discussion - fairly typical sort. Friendtrilobite is the one who is pretty over my head - I’m a licensed pharmacist, but am a SAHM & haven’t studied this stuff in almost 15yrs.


Thanks, Joanna, but those are actually the spark for the discussion.

I read the article about those pics and was curious how pro-aborts would respond to something so powerful so I went over to reader’s comments to get an idea and now here I am in the thick of it! :stuck_out_tongue:


A bioinformaticist? What is that? Is it alive? Does it possess legal or moral personhood?



I hope this helps, because it renders their arguments irrelevant.

“The one who will be a man is already one.”


Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from EWTN](

III. In the Additional Light of Reason

11. The first right of the human person is his life. He has other goods and some are more precious, but this one is fundamental – the condition of all the others. Hence it must be protected above all others. It does not belong to society, nor does it belong to public authority in any form to recognize this right for some and not for others: all discrimination is evil, whether it be founded on race, sex, color or religion. It is not recognition by another that constitutes this right. This right is antecedent to its recognition; it demands recognition and it is strictly unjust to refuse it.

  1. Any discrimination based on the various stages of life is no more justified than any other discrimination. The right to life remains complete in an old person, even one greatly weakened; it is not lost by one who is incurably sick. The right to life is no less to be respected in the small infant just born than in the mature person. In reality, respect for human life is called for from the time that the process of generation begins. From the time that the ovum is fertilized, a life is begun which is neither that of the father nor of the mother, it is rather the life of a new human being with his own growth. It would never be made human if it were not human already.
  1. To this perpetual evidence–perfectly independent of the discussions on the moment of animation[19]–modern genetic science brings valuable confirmation. It has demonstrated that, from the first instant, there is established the program of what this living being will be: a man, this individual man with his characteristic aspects already well determined. Right from fertilization is begun the adventure of a human life, and each of its capacities requires time–a rather lengthy time–to find its place and to be in a position to act. The least that can be said is that present science, in its most evolved state, does not give any substantial support to those who defend abortion. Moreover, it is not up to biological sciences to make a definitive judgment on questions which are properly philosophical and moral such as the moment when a human person is constituted or the legitimacy of abortion. From a moral point of view this is certain: even if a doubt existed concerning whether the fruit of conception is already a human person, it is objectively a grave sin to dare to risk murder. “The one who will be a man is already one.”[20]


Never mind, I think I found the answer. A bioinformaticist is someone who is trained in bioinformatics! Which is Information science as applied to biology. Apparently they deal with such things as creating databases of biological information, such as nucleic acid sequences.

I’m not sure that this would give one any particular expertise in the area of abortion. It still comes down to a question of when a human being begins. When does a new individual of the human species have its beginning? If they give any other answer than at fertilization, I question their scientific honesty.



Any living creature
will have environmental
(temperature, pressure, atmosphere, moisture)
and nutritional requirements
(food and water, chemicals, light).

It will stop living if its needs are not met.
To deprive a living creature of any of its survival requirements is to kill it.

From the moment of conception,the human being is moving, reproducing by cell division (growing) and absorbing nutrients.

If there more than one (twins?) and you were able to safely move it (he or she, sex is known from DNA “spurs”) into the womb of another woman (surrogate mother, not licit, just a thought experiment) the two children would be born identical, except for weight, height depending on how well the mother cared for herself.

It;s almost silly to debate at this level, though, because,
by the time a woman KNOWS she’s expecting,
discusses her options with the father or her parents,
arranges an appointment, the human being, inside of its mother, is no longer a cell,
no longer a clump of cells,
nor anything less than a tiny, fully-formed baby,
receiving food, oxygen, and antibodies though an umbilical cord (like an astronaut in space).
Just as it would be killing to cut the astronaut’s lifeline, so is it killing to cut the baby’s lifeline to its mother.


I have a Doctorate in Optometry. I got my undergraduate degree in Biological Science, and I Minored in Zoology. Meesa know biology.

As a scientist, I can say unequivocably that life begins at conception. Cells divide when something is growing. Cells can’t divide if they’re dead.

Gee, in college they taught us that when a sperm and an egg meet, that genetic code mixes to create a new organism. Life begins! I completed my undergraduate degree from Oregon State University in 1992. As far as I know, the definition of when life begins hasn’t changed.

Link them to the photos section of this website, so that they can take a look the very human face and body of a 10 week old fetus. It is CLEARLY human at this point! It is NOT a mass of cells, as the pro-baby eviscerators/serial killers would have you believe.

Those people debating you are just making excuses for what is clearly MURDER! Show them the photo gallery on that website, and you might just make them pro-life!! I nearly threw up when I saw the pictures! I CRIED for all the babies we’ve murdered in this country!! Also have them read HOW they abort babies. It’s sick and disgusting.


The following is part of an argument made by a Catholic bioethicist which you may find helpful.

The legitimacy of killing the unborn depends solely upon whether or not the unborn are human beings. If the unborn are human beings, than no argument can justify abortion. Based on this obvious point, it is necessary to explore the common characteristics and the apparent differences between the born and the unborn. We know that a person’s genetic material is identical from conception through adulthood. Therefore, we know that the unborn at any stage of development will never be anything other than a human being. It also follows that any person alive today is the same person they were when they lived inside their mother’s womb.

Most people that argue in favor of abortion believe that it is the differences between the born and the unborn that justify abortion. They even go so far as to say that the unborn is not a human being. The only differences between the born and the unborn are size, level of development, environment, and dependency. Obviously, an adult is larger than a child, but the adult’s size does not make him more human than the child. Likewise the tiny unborn human in the womb is no less human because she is smaller than the rest of us. We also know that a small child has not reached sexual maturity and is, therefore, less developed than an adult. The ability to reproduce does not make the adult more human than the child. Therefore, the level of development is not a factor in determining whether we are human beings. If the level of development were the determining factor we could easily decide to kill anyone prior to reaching puberty. The environment or location of an adult does not determine his or her humanity. We are no less human while flying at 30,000 ft. in an airplane, than when we are sitting in the airport. Likewise, the environment or location of the unborn (i.e. the womb) does not make the unborn less human than when it takes its first breath in the delivery room. We must also apply the same kind of logic to the last difference between the born and the unborn. Obviously, if someone is in Intensive Care at a hospital while recovering from an accident, their level of dependency would be significant. No one would argue, however, that the individual was less human during their recovery than before the accident or after the recovery. Likewise, an infant or even a small child is totally dependent on the parents, but the infant and child are considered human beings. The same holds true for the unborn. While she may be in her mother’s womb and may be completely dependent on her mother, she is still a human being. The level of dependency does not determine whether or not she is a human being.

continued on next post


continued from previous post:

Life begins at conception and abortion kills a human being. Supreme Court rulings do not change the truth. In the Dred Scott decision, the Court declared that slaves were property and not human beings. The Nazis declared Jews and others to be subhuman and non persons as well. Judicial and political decisions are not always based on facts, truth, or correct moral principles.


As I understand it, friendtrilobite is arguing that abortion up to 12 wks (& probably several beyond) doesn’t matter because the fetus is unable to feel it or know what’s going on.

I tried citing what references I could find to support what I was saying medically.

Here are two of his or her posts responding to some of my attempts:
From “A Child is Born”: They state that "As early as the seventh week, nerve cells in the brain have begun to touch one another by means of projections, and some have even become connected in primitive nerve paths.

This sounds like lovely, happy, oversimplified view of the miraculous process of development - systems are in place at 8 weeks only at their grossest level, in that you can tell where everything will be. What organs exist are rudimentary. A seven week embryo is roughly one inch long; do you have some visions of all the organs being there as just teeny-tiny versions of adult organs? They’re not. The progenitor cells for various systems have their destinies largely set by that time, but they undergo profound changes as well as mere multiplication before you can say the organs are “developed.”

In terms of the “brain”, the neural tube will have completed its fold and fusion by that point, and by week 4 there should be lumpy bits where the fore-, mid- and hindbrain will be (the prosencephalon, mesencephalon, and rhombencephalon). In week 5, the telencephalon (“end brain”) develops from the prosencephalon and swells. By 8 weeks one can identify the cerebellum, as well as primitive frontal, parietal, temporal, and occipital lobes - however, one identifies them by outline only, as well as by differential gene expression. There are at this point NO fully developed cells in the brain, neither glia nor neuron; many people mistake “identifiable” for “functional”, but this is not the case. Identifiable does not mean functional.

As for “a functional central nervous sytem at a month and a half”, it is still nonsense. Grays no doubt has extensive illustration of the fate of neural crest and neural tube, but I don’t think you are quite understanding what you are reading. It is indeed “neural” or even “neuronal” development, but that doesn’t actually mean they are neurons. It is genuinely confusing, but the terminology evolved rather than came about as the result of planning, and contains seeming contradictions. The cells of the neural tube have cell fates, but they are not yet mature. There is an argument that one may identify which cells will be neurons, but they have not developed the soma or dendrites which mark functional neurons.



And in response to the testimony of a Dr. before Congress regarding the fetus feeling pain, friendtrilobite responds thusly:

Finally: “the highest density of pain receptors per square inch of skin in human development occurs in utero at 20 to 30 weeks of gestation. This is a time when the skin is very thin and nerve fibers are close to the surface of the skin, making them very exposed.”

These pain receptors are called nociceptors, and yes, they develop and reach their highest density between 20 and 30 weeks. This is fully compatible with what I have told you before; sensory information is possible by this time, although there is still a marked difference in fetal response from early in this time period to late in this time period. The “grimace” response to needle pricks exists during this time period (an “appropriate response” indicating that the brain is receiving information properly), however it is of less intensity and shorter duration at 23 weeks than what it is at 26 weeks, which in turn is less than it is at 30 weeks. I would personally venture to say that, barring abnormal brain development, one should expect all sensory response (that is, taste, touch, hearing, and response to light) to be present by 22 weeks; there is a possibility (I would say not a full certainty) that all are present by 20 weeks, although touch and hearing are present then. There is nothing at all in the literature to support an assertion that a fetus has, or can have, full sensory perception prior to 16 weeks gestation. Response to touch takes place at an organismal level rather than a discriminatory cerebral level, and although I’ve seen a couple of papers claiming auditory response at 14 weeks, their evidence is just on the border of verifiability.

Since abortion after 12 weeks must have a medical justification, I don’t personally see a conflict, although I would like to see what counts as a medical justification slightly more tightly regulated.

This is not mere emotional opinion. This is considered opinion based on, yes, medical and scientific fact.


See the Nova program from PBS

(click on the title for video)

Life’s Geatest Miracle (Nova on PBS)

"The First Two Weeks" and
"The Embryo Takes Shape"


[quote=GodsGrace]As I understand it, friendtrilobite is arguing that abortion up to 12 wks (& probably several beyond) doesn’t matter because the fetus is unable to feel it or know what’s going on.


By their logic, to murder someone in their sleep isn’t a crime because they are unaware someone is about to kill them. So it’d probably also be okay to off someone in a coma too, since they’re unconscious. And those far gone alzheimers patients, we could get rid of them too, they really don’t know what’s going on.


The May/June issue of This Rock Magazine (published by Catholic Answers) has an article entitled ‘X Marks the Spot’ by James Kidd

In part, the article says: 'Abortion is legal, infanticide is illegal… Why the difference?.. The answer must be that there is a quality or set of wualities (X) that all newborns have and no preborn infants have that makes newborns worthy of protection by the law and preborn infants unworthy of such protection." The article then proceeds to deal with some possible examples of X in such a way that the pro-choice theory is dismantled.

If you ring the apologists on Catholic Answers they may be able to give you more info re this article.

Have a look at ‘To Do No Harm’ on Google. It is a Catholic doctors’ website.

One fact that helped me to understand that the foetus is human is that if it is taken out of the mother’s body and grown on agae jelly and given all the right nutriments etc it will only ever develop into a human, not a carrot or a rabbit. The foetus has its own DNA. I think we don’t need to let ourselves get sidetracked by the spin of the pro aborts using technical jargon and big words.


Sounds like Dianne Irving’s article, “When Do Human Beings Begin? ‘Scientific’ Myths and Scientific Facts” is the perfect article for your situation. You can find it here:


I never had to take biology in high school – only had to take a semester of “Life Science.” (That’s “biology - lite”). But even I know that:

One egg - plus one sperm - equals new set of DNA.

How’s about using some testimonies from former abortionists to make the point with these folks you’re discussing this with?

There’s photographs available from links at this page of You go to this page… THEN you click on the links for photos taken of babies who’ve been aborted… categorized in age within the womb at which they were aborted.

Here’s a quote from this site:

“It is especially critical to show people the images of babies aborted in the first trimester. It is in regard to such children, who constitute 90% of abortion victims, that the myth persists that they are not really children at all.”

Keeping you and others who are discussing this modern holocaust in my prayers!!


How about this?

Part of that page gives this:

"Fetal Development
The widely used medical textbook The Developing Human, Clinically Oriented Embryology, 6th Edition, Moore, Persaud, Saunders, 1998, states at page 2 that “The intricate processes by which a baby develops from a single cell are miraculous … This cell [the zygote] results from the union of an oocyte [egg] and sperm. A zygote is the beginning of a new human being …” At page 18 this theme is repeated: “Human development begins at fertilization [emphasis in original] …”

Judge Michael J. Noonan ruled as follows in a New Jersey case based on a man’s efforts to save his unborn child from being aborted: “…based upon the undisputed medical testimony by arguably the foremost authority in genetics in the world, I found that human life begins as conception; and that Roe vs. Wade permits a legal execution of that human being.” (MUNICIPAL COURT OF NEW JERSEY LAW DIVISION - MORRIS COUNTY CRIMINAL ACTION DOCKET NO. C1771, ET SEQ. STATE OF NEW JERSEY V. ALEXANDER LOCE, et als. DEFENDANTS APRIL 29, 1991 HONORABLE MICHAEL J. NOONAN)

Dr. Jerome Lejeune, “Father of Modern Genetics” and discoverer of the cause of Down’s Syndrome, stated, “To accept the fact that after fertilization has taken place a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion . . . it is plain experimental evidence.”

Sir William Liley, a key pioneer of fetal therapy, wrote a famous article in 1972, The Foetus as a Personality, in which he shows us why we have moved away from the view of the fetus as an inert, unformed passenger awaiting arrival at the destination of life, and have seen that the fetus is a splendidly functioning human, full of vigor and very much in command of the pregnancy.
… We present to you below some of the visual evidence that, indeed, we have a brother, a sister, in the womb.

Click here for pictures of the developing baby.
Click below to listen to the heartbeat of an unborn child.

  Heartbeat at:  9.5 weeks; 11.5 weeks; 15 weeks; 26 weeks; 32 weeks (All ages noted here are LMP; therefore the baby's age from fertilization is actually two weeks younger than the number. These heart tones were recorded through a Doppler speaker by Dr. David M. Ramsey, III.)"

You can also click there for ultrasound pictures.

Here’s the link to Images of Foetal Development.

Here’s the link to “The Foetus as a Personality” by A.W. Liley.

P.S. As of today, the Approximate number of babies killed by surgical abortion in the USA since January 22, 1973:

43 million – 974 thousand – 32… 33… 34

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit