NRL News

Life in the Womb, Part 4

by | Mar 7, 2013

By Carol Tobias, President
National Right to Life

Editor’s note. This can be heard at

unbornbabiesFrom the moment of conception, a unique human person is formed.  This new human being begins to develop in ways that are unique to all human beings, exhibiting all the characteristics of human life.  The baby is called a zygote at fertilization.  After four days, she is called a blastocyst, and, after 6 days, begins to implant in the uterine wall.   From 2 to 8 weeks, she is called an embryo. Same individual, different designations.

At 8 weeks, she is 1” long.  Now, she looks like a baby with all major body parts present and a face clearly recognizable as a human child.  At the end of the embryonic period, major milestones include:

All major body parts are present

Brain and spinal cord are formed

Heart is present in primitive form and pumping blood

Structures for the eye and ear are present

Primitive organs are all present

Upper and lower limb buds are present

The amniotic sac protects the unborn child by providing a liquid cushion called amnion.  The unborn child drinks it, which provides practice for future eating and digestion.  She will drink more of it, if sweeteners are added to it.  This demonstrates early sensory preferences.

By 12 weeks, it is possible to see bony material and some of the blood vessels under the thin skin.  During this phase of development, the unborn baby exercises by jumping and rolling around in the amniotic fluid.  This is an especially active period because she is small enough to make full use of the amniotic sac.  As growth occurs, the developing baby will have less and less room for physical activities.  At this age, she engages in reflexive movements including swallowing, rooting, grasping, and flexing of the toes.  A rapid increase in brain cells occurs and the eye is completely formed.

By 4 months, the unborn child is 6” long.  The brain is now fully developed and an EKG can be obtained of the heart beat.  The skin is fully developed and the hair is forming.  The thumb can be manipulated separately from the fingers and the hands can be clasped together.  This is an important early stage in the development of manipulation skills.  Soon after birth, the baby will begin to learn about the environment by grasping and handling objects.  Her face begins to take on the personal appearance given in the individual genetic material that was inherited from the parents during fertilization.

All body parts are now present.  Only growth will occur from now until birth.

Perhaps the most powerful argument against abortion that we have as a pro-life movement is the development of the youngest members of our human family.  The developmental milestones which we’ve been discussing all week aren’t subjective opinions that are open to interpretation – they are hard medical and scientific facts that are taught daily in schools around the world.  They are facts which clearly demonstrate the humanity of the unborn child.  Even our pro-abortion opposition is forced to concede the reality of unborn development.  And we have seen time and again that when a mother who is contemplating abortion is given all of the facts about the development of her unborn child – including the opportunity to see her child via ultrasound – she will be more likely to choose life for her child.

More tomorrow about this remarkable prenatal developmental journey at

Categories: Unborn Children