When Does the Fetus Become a Baby?

WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?

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1. The Great Debate

So, when you are pregnant, when does the fetus actually become a baby? This is a very loaded question that has been debated over and over again. The answer is not a simple one, and is a matter of opinion, depending on what you believe.

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There is actually an entire area of science dedicated to the study of prenatal development, called Embryology that studies this matter. Also, people have different answers to this question depending on their religious beliefs and their feelings about abortion. It truly is a great debate.

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2. Pro-Life Stance

Pro-lifers believe that the moment that an egg is fertilized, it becomes a baby. They do not see it as “just an egg”, “just an embryo”, or “just a fetus”.

Donna J. Harrison, MD, president of the American Association of Pro Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, argues that if the prenatal being “is nourished and protected, it will proceed uninterrupted through the developmental stages of embryo, fetus, newborn, toddler, child, teen, adult and aged adult: one continuous existence…

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The real argument in the abortion debate is whether or not this human being is a ‘person,’ with all the…protections of ‘personhood.’”  Harrison also compares the exclusion of prenatal beings from personhood to the exclusion of African-Americans.

Other pro-lifers connect the exclusion of prenatal life forms from personhood to the exclusion of other groups, such as women, Latino/as, Native Americans, people with disabilities, LGBT (lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgendered) persons, the poor, and death row prisoners. Pro-lifers believe that a fetus is a baby from the very beginning.

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3. Pro-Choice Stance

Pro-choicers take another stance on the “when does a fetus become a baby” debate.  Most people who are pro-choice do acknowledge that the egg/embryo/fetus are actually alive, but that they are not a complete and actual person.

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They are seen more as “under construction”, and not in their final state. Some think that the fetus becomes a baby at the point when it is able to survive outside the womb, which in most cases in between 20 and 24 weeks.

Diana Philip from the National Coalition of Abortion Providers comments: “Pro-choice docs would say that it is not their business to determine for a patient when life begins. Ultimately each patient determines the value and definition of life…within her own mind and heart.”

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What this means is up to each individual to decide for themselves. It’s not an easy thing to determine where exactly life begins or when a fetus becomes a baby. There are many personal beliefs and factors that help to determine where a person stands on the issue.

Dr. Lynette Weiss is ConceiveEasy's Senior Physician and Scientific Director. She is certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and is a fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.