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June 19, 2014 / BTM

This Used To Be You!

seedfinalOkay, I admit it; you were never a poppy seed.  But you were the size of a poppy seed when you were 3 – 4 weeks old inside your mother’s womb.  You were the size of an apple seed at five weeks; a pea at six; a blueberry at seven; a raspberry at eight; a green olive at nine; and so on.  Here’s a neat website that provides more of these tangible comparisons.

The point of all this is, were you still you even when you were as small as a poppy seed?  Relative size is one of the most common rationalizations for abortion.  Besides size, the only other ways that a baby outside the womb differs from one inside the womb are level of dependence, degree of development and location.

I decided to explore these with our children when they were 6 and 8 years old to try to understand each of them better.

A central question to the abortion debate should be to determine what is being destroyed during the abortion procedure.  As Greg Koukl and Scott Klusendorf aptly point out, before a building is destroyed, you would check to make sure that there weren’t any humans inside it.  However, you would not verify whether or not there were cockroaches or ants or rats inside before destroying that same building.  Humans are different and life is important.

When we did this activity with our kids, they were 6 and 8 years old.  We were not trying to help them understand they whole pro-life position, they were really too young for that.  But we did want to investigate the differences between the pre-born and the born.  To do this in an interactive way, I showed them the following items and asked some questions related to each one:

  • I put a single poppy seed on a plate. I said: “Something this small could never be a human being, right?” “Does your size make you a human or change you from being a human?” “Is Daddy (who is taller than me) more human than I am?” “Some people think that just because a baby inside its mother’s tummy is very small like this poppy seed, it’s not really a person. What do you think?”
  • I hid a small stuffed animal in a box that barely fit it so that it wouldn’t make a sound when shaken. You could also use something else light like a balloon for this object lesson. I asked our kids to tell me if there was anything inside the box. They were allowed to lift up the box and to shake it, but they couldn’t open it. I asked: “Is it possible that there is something inside this box even if we can’t see it?” and “If we can’t see what’s inside, does that mean it doesn’t exist?”
  • I found a picture of someone on life support and asked if they were still a person. I asked: “If we took away all of this machinery, this person would die. Does that mean that this person not a valuable person?”
  • I showed them this chart of fetal development.  Some of the early pictures in this chart do not look like a human baby. I pointed out the early pictures in the chart and asked them what it was. I said: “We can’t really call this a person, can we?”

I summarized the discussion by saying that babies who are inside their mother’s tummies don’t look like ‘real’ humans.  They can’t do the same things that we can.  They are dependent on their mothers like the picture of the person on life support is dependent on machines to live.  They are incredibly small and are hidden from our view inside their mother’s tummy.  I asked:  “Which if these makes that baby not a human?”  (I like to test them this way to see if they get it!)

When they said none, because they also remembered that a baby has a unique human DNA fingerprint at birth, I asked “Then what makes a person a person?  What makes him or her valuable?”

The answer lies in our being made in the image of God.  Life is sacred at all stages.  It doesn’t matter what you look like or can do at any stage outside the womb in order to be valuable.  The same holds true for life inside the womb.




Leave a Comment
  1. Carrie / Jun 19 2014 1:01 pm

    Your opening words will definitely draw hungry people into reading more! 🙂

  2. eyeontheuniverse / Jun 19 2014 3:41 pm

    The argument has nothing to do with relative size, but neuronal complexity. At the size of a poppy seed you have no neurons at all…you are like a skin swab from the inside of a cheek…from which you can also make a human being by cloning. Is that sacred, too? Are twins not so valuable, because their DNA is not so unique? That is a valid conclusion from the argument from genetic uniqueness.

    • BTM / Jul 15 2014 2:00 pm

      It seems like you are trying to argue that life begins once a certain degree of neuronal complexity exists. Could you please explain why this factor in particular should define when life begins?

      I believe you have misunderstood my comment about DNA. The point is not that each person’s DNA is unique, but rather that each of us has the same unique DNA at conception that we’ll have for the rest of our lives. It’s an argument that we are ‘who we are’ from conception, not at some other arbitrary point. So, your point about twins is not relevant to this argument.

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