Wednesday, October 29, 2008


"Listen to me little fetus, precious homo incompletus.
As you dream your dreams placental, don't grow nothing accidental."

Human life begins long before birth. Much of the debate surrounding reproductive health and abortion concerns the question of when the merger between an egg and a sperm becomes a person. The Bible does not tell us when we start to be humans, but it seems clear that the developing fetus is already human in God's eyes. When Jeremiah was called to serve the Lord God, he heard some strange words: "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart. I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." Apparently, God considered Jeremiah to be a person long before he was born. The same conclusion might be reached about John the Baptist. When his mother Elizabeth was greeted by Mary, the baby "leaped in the womb." It could be argued of course that the child was responding only physically to an adrenaline upsurge in the mother, but Elizabeth assumed that "the baby in my womb leaped for joy!" This seems like a real life that was able to experience joy even before his birthday. Another Bible passage would support this conclusion. The Psalmist David wrote that he was "sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me." - Psalm 139:13-16. David praises God who "knit me together in my mother's womb" and "saw my unformed body." The fetus was not considered to be merely some impersonal biological organism. Human life was assumed to start before birth. It must start at some time during the gestation or prenatal development, and most likely it starts at conception.

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