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Letter: The inconvenient science of embryology

Koehler responds to recent letters about abortion.

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In a recent letter, " How to keep abortion legal ," the writer stated that fetuses in “their first 12 weeks ... have zero brain function and do not respond to stimuli of any kind.” In another letter, " The war on women is escalating ," the writer refers to the unborn human life as a “blob of protoplasm.” Whether these statements of blatant misinformation were intentional, or simply from an extreme lack of knowledge, they certainly need to be corrected.

The scientific facts are that at just 3 weeks from conception (approximately 5 weeks gestational age) the first signs of brain development are evident, and by 4 weeks from fertilization the basic structure for the entire central nervous system has formed. At 8 weeks the baby’s brain is growing rapidly, producing almost 250,000 new neurons each minute. At this point the embryo can respond to touch by reflex and the brain can make the muscles move on purpose.

By 9 weeks from fertilization the baby has all of the major organ systems and is a distinctly recognizable human being now known as a “fetus,” a Latin word for “young one.” The heart was the first organ to function by the third week (18-21 days) from fertilization. By the fourth week it can be observed on an ultrasound scan beating about 80 times a minute. In addition, by this time the eyes are developing, and the arm and leg buds are visible. Also, keep in mind that from the very moment of conception all the genetic information for every detail of this newly created and unique life is present.

All of the above facts refer to the developing human being in its “first 12 weeks from conception,” the time when most abortions are done. These scientific facts of embryology come from a number of sources including embryology textbooks, National Geographic, the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, and other sources too numerous to mention in the space allowed here.

While we are always told to “follow the science, apparently when it comes to abortion we are instead expected to disregard this inconvenient science of embryology completely. In a recent documentary movie “The Matter Of Life,” Dr. Anthony Levatino, an OB GYN specialist who had performed over 1,200 abortions, stated that one day during a routine abortion his clamp pulled out an arm and a leg and it finally hit him that this was someone’s son or daughter. He got sick and never did another abortion again. He also stated that “It doesn’t matter what size the unborn baby is - it’s the same human life!” Dr. Levatino is right. Human life of any age is human life and should be protected as such. And, as these little ones cannot protect themselves, it is up to us to do so.


Dr. Bernard Nathanson, another former abortionist, who became pro-life after watching the unborn baby on an ultrasound during an abortion concluded the documentary by stating: “Let’s all, for humanity sake, stop the killing!” Yes indeed, let us!

Ken Koehler lives in West Fargo.

This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.

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