When I was nine years old, my little brother Tony was born, but I got to know him long before his birth on October 10, 2000.  Months earlier, I caught a glimpse of him for the first time, when I saw my growing little brother in a black and white sonogram picture.

Months before his birth, I could feel nothing but love for him.  I felt an eternal connection with him long before I held him in my arms.  By witnessing such purity in a child yet unscathed by the turbulent world, it was impossible not to see a glimmer of hope for the future.  In a world that seems increasingly backward and hopeless, it’s nice to know that untainted goodness and innocence are still possible.

However, as long as abortion exists in our society, such hope is all too often snuffed out.  My brother is now a happy (and often annoying) 11-year-old, but not all children get the chance to experience the world and all of its joys.  Abortion not only stops a beating heart; it ends a fragile human life. Pro-choice advocates often argue that the child inside its mother’s womb is only a “blob of cells,” but this is merely a ploy to dehumanize the human being and justify murder.

A unique human being exists from the moment of conception.  Immediately after the egg is fertilized, the child takes on its own gender and chromosomes — 23 from mom and 23 from dad.  The embryo immediately begins to grow and divide rapidly.  The child cannot merely be “part” of a woman’s body, for his or her genetic structure is completely different.  After only 21 days have passed, the child has a heartbeat and distinct organs begin to form.  Before the child is 2 months from conception, he or she is able to move on his or her own.

Most abortions occur before the 13th week of gestation (during the first trimester), but long before that time, the child has displayed complex, unique development.  In order to make evident the humanity of a developing child, pro-life activists have long pushed for laws requiring abortion providers to perform a sonogram on patients requesting an abortion.  Recently, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Texas upheld a law that would require abortion providers perform an sonogram on women before proceeding with the abortion.  The law also requires that the provider make available an audible heartbeat and verbal descriptions of the child in the sonogram.

An article in the Houston Chronicle said that this law encompasses, “a practice with no medical necessity but a clear intent to shame a woman out of proceeding with an abortion.” First off, doctors should ensure that their patients are fully informed before undergoing a medical procedure. If that includes informing the woman that the “blob of cells” in her uterus has a beating heart and developing organ systems.  Then, those facts must be relayed before the procedure occurs.  Additionally, if the growing child is merely a “blob of cells,” what is so shaming about a sonogram?  Sonograms are not intrusive and take no more than a few minutes to complete.  Cancer patients are shown images of their malignancies before surgery, why should pregnant women be any different?

However, pregnant women are different. What’s inside a pregnant woman’s womb is not a malignancy or “blob of cells”; it is a growing human being.  Such humanity is often clear in sonogram images or amid sounds of a fetus’ beating heart.  The Texas law merely plans to give a voice and presence to the voiceless.  “Shame” from a sonogram comes not from the procedure itself, but from the knowledge revealed through it.

A mother who hears her child’s beating heart or sees him or her on a sonogram picture will witness first-hand the small human in their womb.  The “shame” comes from realizing that abortion will stop that beating heart and destroy the life it belongs to.  The knowledge that is gained through viewing sonogram pictures or hearing a beating heart “humanizes” the child.  Many pro-choice arguments do the exact opposite.

Behind the guise of “freedom of choice” abortion arguments lies an implicit attempt at dehumanization.  Abortions are “easier” when you ignore the humanity of the developing child.  Convincing yourself that the “blob of cells” in your womb is nothing more than a tumor eases guilt over taking human life; at least for a while.  Declare a developing child “less than a person,” and he or she is not entitled to any rights, most importantly the right to life.  Perhaps Ronald Reagan said it best when he stated,

“We cannot diminish the value of one category of human life — the unborn — without diminishing the value of all human life.”

If we cannot protect the most innocent lives in our nation, we are a people with a degrading valuation of life itself.  Every time I look at my little brother, I’m reminded how precious the gift of life really is.  There was never a time when my little brother, or any human being for that matter, was “less than” a human being.  From womb to tomb, life is a precious gift; one that should be protected to the fullest extent of the law.

Amy Lutz :: Saint Louis University :: Saint Louis, Missouri :: @AmyLutz4