Sunday Extra: The humanity of preborn babies
By RENEE MULLEN
Psychiatry defines denial as a defense mechanism in which the existence of unpleasant internal or external realities is denied and kept out of conscious awareness. Throughout history, some people have been deemed to be less human than others; perhaps it is denial that allows the acceptance of this concept.
During the Holocaust, Jewish people and many others were deemed by Hitler to be unwanted and not fully human. The German Supreme Court refused to recognize Jews as legal "persons" and they had no rights or protection under the German Constitution. Many people were in denial about the horror of Hitler until they saw photos and irrefutable proof.
Much further back in history, African-Americans were deemed to be less human than whites. Slavery was legalized in 1641 and slaves were considered property. The "Three-Fifths Compromise" of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 defined slaves as 3/5 human for purposes of representation and taxation. Former slaves didn't receive the rights of citizenship and equal protection of the Constitution until the 14th Amendment in 1868. Many people were in denial for hundreds of years.
Since Roe v. Wade passed in 1973, millions of babies have been deemed by some to be less human than others, in spite of overwhelming scientific and medical evidence showing the humanity of the preborn. Experts agree that a heartbeat is present at 22 days after conception; brain waves are present at six weeks; all genetic definition is determined at fertilization making each preborn baby distinct from every other human being; and all body systems are present at eight weeks. Experts have also shown that preborn babies feel pain. Yet many people remain in denial.
The Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic, internationally renowned medical organizations, provide prenatal information about "how your baby grows." Even medical terminology used for early stages of development clearly indicates presence of life. Merriam-Webster defines an embryo as the developing human individual from the time of implantation to the end of the 8th week after conception. A fetus is defined as a developing human from usually two months after conception to birth. Abortion is defined as the termination of a pregnancy, after, accompanied by, resulting in or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus. If an embryo and fetus are both defined as human, then abortion must be the termination of a human.
At least 38 states have fetal homicide laws pertaining to the purposeful or accidental killing of a fetus due to criminal acts including vehicular homicide or voluntary manslaughter. Many of these laws apply to an unborn child in utero at any stage of development. Therefore, experts in criminal law recognize the humanity of the preborn baby.
Are scientists, medical experts and criminal law experts all wrong about what constitutes a human? Or is the acceptance of abortion by some people due to simply being in denial about what constitutes a human being, just as others were in denial in the past about the humanity of African-Americans and Jewish people?
Renee Mullen of Champaign is a volunteer involved with various multifaith, multichurch, multicultural collaborations that oppose abortion. She was chairwoman of the recent rally to defund Planned Parenthood Champaign-Urbana and is the co-chairwoman of 40 Days for Life Champaign-Urbana, which is part of an international collaboration.