This Is Where We Start: Education & Fetal Development
Did you know that Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in America? The organization is responsible for aborting about 320,000 preborn babies annually. Abortion is a lucrative practice, often being connected to sexual promiscuity and exploitation.
Did you know that women under the age of 24 account for the majority of abortions in the United States? That means that women who are recently graduated from college, in college, or still in high school are the ones facing unplanned pregnancies, unsure of how to proceed, and end up thinking abortion as their best option.
Did you know that Planned Parenthood is also the largest sexual education provider in the United States? Chances are that the information these abortion-vulnerable women have received or are receiving at the time of their unwanted/unintended pregnancy is coming from Planned Parenthood. Most likely, they are being fed the narrative that abortion is “normal” and will get rid of their “problem” with little or no side effects.
Based on all of the above, I am going to offer a new suggestion: we need to offer our young people the ability to make the right choice. What does that look like? Well, for starters, it looks like providing them with an ideal picture of what their relationships and sexuality has the potential to be. It starts by making them aware that just because everyone else is engaging in the hook-up culture, trading sex for real intimacy, does not mean they have to do it. It starts by educating them with not only knowledge, but also morality that is based in wisdom and experience. When they are given the freedom and the power to make their own choices, while first being empowered with their identity, many of them will make choices that will protect them relationally and sexually. But here is the kicker: they have to at least be told they have the option to make a different choice.
The hard truth is that abstinence is the only 100% effective way to avoid STDs, HPV, HIV, and unintended pregnancy. Somewhere along the way, this idea arose that educating students about safe sex means not at all talking about why abstinence could be an option for them. In many progressive sex-ed programs, the word “abstinence” may be mentioned once, but it certainly is not explained or delved into because it is considered “unrealistic.”
I think this is where we are going wrong — we are willing to sacrifice the souls of teenagers because we assume they are just immature, hormonal, sexually-uncontrollable beings that just want to hook-up with whoever they see.
The worst thing our culture does for young people is water down the issue of sexuality. We misunderstand teenagers when we assume that they are just immature, physically and emotionally, in how they think about relationships. Beneath the physiological realities resides a deep, human desire for connection. We were made for relationships.
Instead of teaching students that they have a right to make whatever decisions they want, that there is nothing bad about having multiple sexual partners, and that if they need to have an abortion it is really not that big of a deal, we need to be empowering them to make life-giving choices.
We do not have to bend our approach because the culture is rebelling against the only thing that is proven to work. Sexual risk avoidance programs are not the issue, although they have been painted to be; Planned Parenthood is. While they brag about being the nation’s largest sexual education provider, our nation is still facing an STD epidemic. Why? Well, I would offer up the thought that abstinence does not generate a profit for Planned Parenthood. Risky behavior does — so they continue to push it in order to make a profit.
I will never get behind the idea that just because the hook-up culture has become the norm, it is what we should be teaching. The point of education is NOT to meet kids where they are at. The point of education in a secular setting is to challenge their opinions and feelings with knowledge, science, and wisdom and let them figure out how to apply that to real-life. Planned Parenthood’s definition of sex education is not doing ANYTHING to better the lives of the young men and women in our culture. Abortion-prevention begins by speaking directly to the sacredness and identity of humanity, and that is where the pro-life community should start.
Teaching about fetal development in high schools has the potential to be a game-changer for views about abortion. Once teens see the reality of our human development, I believe fully that the connection between personhood and abortion will become very real and unignorable for students.
Steps are being taken in this direction, as a coalition of national pro-life groups are urging people to observe March 25, 2019 as the “Day of the Unborn Child” (already celebrated in various countries), and then to journey through the nine months of pregnancy (until Christmas Day) with prayer, outreach, and education, so that people may learn about the development of the preborn child.
The cool part is, there is even an app called “See Baby Pregnancy Guide” that features footage of an preborn baby. With each week of pregnancy, facts are shared about basic fetal development. The point of this nine-month journey is for the whole country to see the baby in the womb, learn more about his or her development, and see more clearly that these are our brothers and sisters who need to be protected and cherished. I encourage you to head to the app store, download the app, and share this project with your pastor, friends, family, and the teens in your life.
The “See Baby Pregnancy Guide” app is available for download at the following links:
If you have never been taught what fetal development looks like, I will give you a quick overview:
- Fertilization: Otherwise known as conception, this is when the sperm meets and penetrates an egg. At this moment, the genetic makeup is complete, including the sex of the baby.
- 4 weeks: Facial structures begin to develop, the heart, blood vessels, and organs continue to develop. At this point, if a woman takes an at-home pregnancy test, it would show up as positive.
- 8 weeks: Eyelids and ears are forming, the arms and legs are well formed, and the fingers and toes grow longer and more distinct!
- 12 weeks: The doctor can identify the baby’s heartbeat with an ultrasound, and the sex organs of the baby should start to become clear.
- 16 weeks: The blood vessels are fully formed. The baby’s fingers and toes have fingerprints.
- 20 weeks: You’ll notice the baby start to make faces, stretch a little bit, and you;ll feel the baby move more frequently (if you haven’t already). This is typically when an ultrasound is performed, and you can find out what gender you’re having!
- 28 weeks: If you had to deliver prematurely now, there’s a good chance that the baby would survive.
- 32 weeks until birth: At this point, the baby will gain half of its weight rather quickly. The brain and lungs continue to develop very quickly.
Fetal development is amazing, especially when we really seek to understand it for what it is.
Here are some of the highlights that you should be aware of:
- Life begins at fertilization.
The question of when life begins is not a philosophical or religious one — it is settled science. At the moment of fertilization, a new, unique individual is created. It’s about time we get behind that as a culture.
- The baby’s heart begins to beat at 3 weeks and 1 day after fertilization, many times, before the woman even knows she is pregnant.
Between fertilization and birth, the heart beats approximately 54 million times.
For more information on how to educate students about fetal development, you can visit: https://studentsforlife.org/high-school/fetal-development.
The abortion debate is not at all as complicated as we make it out to be. Abortion is wrong. End of story. I believe that from a basic molecular level because abortion kills a preborn baby — not a lump of cells — a baby who has yet to be born but is still very much human. Sure, I am a Christian woman, who believes that life begins at conception based on God’s Word, but I am also not naive. I do not believe abortion is wrong because of my religion. I believe it is wrong because science confirms what God teaches. When it comes to the issue of human life, science and God’s word do not contradict — rather, one supports the other.
Once you know the science, you cannot deny that a child in the womb is worthy of the same dignity that you and I are. Our students know that violence is wrong. They know that social injustice is wrong. The pro-life movement denounces violence because no matter what form it takes, harming or killing innocent human life is social injustice we should all stand in solidarity against. As true pro-life feminists have said before: “When our [women’s] liberation costs innocent lives, it is merely oppression redistributed.”
I beg you, if you are a teacher, a parent, or anyone who loves a teenager, it is time to join this fight to get REAL, SUSTAINABLE, VALUES-BASED education for our students. We can no longer ignore the impact that Planned Parenthood has on our children’s lives.
This is where we have to start. And we let God do the rest.
The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education. -Martin Luther King, Jr.
Written by AFL Ministry Coordinator and Abundant Life youth curriculum author Sammie Franks. The blog was originally featured on the Abundant Life website.
Tags: abortion, Author: Sammie Franks, fetal development, human development, Planned Parenthood, sexual education, sexuality, teens, unborn, unborn baby,