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When is a baby not a baby?

April 9, 2011
By KEN BLACK , Times-Republican

With the recent passage of a bill in the Iowa House that places further restrictions on abortions, the question of when life begins has once again become a prominent debate in the state of Iowa.

Some, justifying the legality of abortion, say life does not begin until birth. Until then, the growth inside the body is not a baby, or even a human. I suppose they can find some grounds to justify that position, but it certainly means a lot of things have to change in human growth and development textbooks.

If an unborn baby is not really a baby, then its heartbeat at 18 to 25 days after conception isn't really a heartbeat. It's just an explained contraction of an unexplained muscle.

If an unborn baby is not really a baby, then its individual and unique fingerprints aren't really fingerprints. They are just lines on unidentified tissue.

If it's not really a baby, then the eyes, lips, tongue and teeth that develop at two months aren't really eyes, lips, tongue and teeth.

If it's not really a baby, then it also does not develop a sleep and wake pattern at the end of two months, because there is nothing there that can sleep or wake.

If it's not really a baby, then those aren't really fingernails at the end of three months.

If it's not really a baby, then it can't possibly be sucking its thumb at four months and doctors, who say they can identify a gender, really cannot. A gender would indicate life, and even human life.

If it's not really a baby, then the mother, of course, doesn't feel it move at five months. That must be the result of a mother's overactive imagination.

If it's not really a baby, then it doesn't hiccup and open its eyes at six months. Those are biological processes that would indicate some form of animal life, at the very least.

If it's not a baby, then taste buds don't really develop at seven months and kidneys don't mature at eight months.

If it's not a baby, then lungs don't fully mature at nine months.

If it's not a baby, then the mom isn't really pregnant and human gestation is the shortest of any life-form, happening instantaneously with birth.

But, if it is a baby, if by some chance that it's life from a biological, moral and spiritual standpoint, then this country has made a terrible mistake.

You can choose to believe what you will, but there is only one truth.

It's possible that life doesn't begin until birth. But given everything that must happen developmentally, it hardly seems like a logical argument.

It seems like an argument made for the sake of convenience.


My cousin Clyde said the only difference between babies and some adults he's seen is how loudly they whine.


Ken Black is a Saturday columnist for the Times-Republican. The views expressed in this column are the personal views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of the T-R. Contact Ken at 641-753-6611 or



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