When in pregnancy should abortion be allowed?

Professor of theology and ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary (as of 1987) Lewis B Smedes believed that abortion was okay through the 6th week of pregnancy:

“Abortion should be legally permitted during the first 6 weeks of pregnancy. Since no one can reasonably be sure that the fetus is a person at that time.

Abortion should be severely restricted after the first 6 weeks, and through the 12th week, serious defects cannot be found until the 12th week.

Abortion after the 3rd month should be a crime, since by that time a fetus has obviously developed into a functioning human body like a person.”

Lewis B Smedes, Mere Morality (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1983),  143 – 144

Smedes’s distinctions become questionable when we actually look at unborn babies at different stages. What is the exact moment that it becomes wrong to abort a baby after six weeks?

Unborn baby at only 5 to 6 weeks
Unborn baby at only 5 to 6 weeks

The baby above is okay to abort, according to Smedes. The baby below is not okay to abort.

6 weeks
6 1/2weeks

The cutoff point of six weeks is an arbitrary distinction picked out of thin air. No earth shattering changes in development happens between six weeks and six days and seven weeks. So many other stages given for when abortion should become illegal are also arbitrary. For example, many people say that abortion should be legal in the first trimester, the first three months, and not afterwards. Here are an unborn baby’s legs at 11 weeks

11 week legs
11 week legs

And here are a baby’s legs at 12

Legs of an unborn baby at 12 weeks
Legs of an unborn baby at 12 weeks

So some people think those babies are ok to abort. But here is the foot of a baby at 14 weeks.

unborn baby's foot at 14 weeks
unborn baby’s foot at 14 weeks

You don’t see a huge difference here either. Nor is there a huge difference between the second and third trimester

26 weeks sonogram of an unborn baby
26 weeks sonogram of an unborn baby (end of 2nd)
28 weeks
28 weeks

You can see facial expressions on each child, even though there is a two-week difference.

Most opinions people have about what the cutoff should be for abortion to be legal become meaningless when you see pictures of unborn babies right before and after that stage. It becomes clear that the only moment, the only beginning point when babies could have rights is either birth or conception. At birth, the baby travels down the woman’s birth canal into the outside world. It is merely a change in location and dependency (although the born baby will still be dependent on his/her mother for an awful lot. It is an incident in the life of a child. Conception, on the other hand, is the moment when that baby comes into existence.  From a scientific standpoint, it is the beginning of life.  Human rights should start when human life begins

Share on Facebook

Author: TA Smith

Sarah Terzo is a pro-life writer and blogger. She is on the board of The Consistent Life Network and PLAGAL +

One thought on “When in pregnancy should abortion be allowed?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

two + eight =