Hi! My name is Meg. I’m 29 years old and, by many definitions, an adult.
Before I was an adult, I was a teenager.
Before I was a teenager, I was a tween.
Before I was a tween, I was a child.
Before I was a child, I was a toddler.
Before I was a toddler, I was a baby.
Before I was a baby, I was a fetus.
Before I was a morula, I was a zygote.
Before I was a zygote, I was nothing. I was never an egg. I was never a sperm. The creature that I am began at a very specific moment in time. I began the moment my DNA began–not at birth, not at viability, not at implantation. I began at my conception.
You see, there’s no ontological difference between a fetus and an infant. The only real difference is location. A baby at 9 months gestation and a full-term newborn are exactly the same in every way except location.
And while viability might sound like a firm line–saying that those who can survive without help are people and those who can’t aren’t1–we can’t actually know which babies will survive. I know a man born at 22 weeks who’s perfectly fine. He even has a master’s degree. But most laws set viability at 24 weeks. And, of course, viability varies from place to place–how could we possibly say that one fetus is a person and the other isn’t simply because one is in Brussels and the other is in Brazzaville? It’s a fuzzy line at best and a heinously immoral one at worst.
Neither birth nor viability is a moment at which a lump of tissue changes into a person. The person you are now is the same person you were in your mother’s womb. There’s no genetic difference, no difference in anything but accidentals.
When you were in your mother’s womb, you were genetically human–and a different human from your mother. You were biologically alive.2 You were you when you were a fetus. You were you even when you were one tiny little zygote, smaller than the head of a pin. We can trace your existence back in time all the way to your conception and no further. You began at your conception. Your life began then–not at birth, not at viability. At conception. You were already you.
And so is every baby, wanted or unwanted. She already has a soul, a future, a place in the world. If you know she’s there, she may already have a heartbeat (22 days) or even brainwaves (40 days). But whatever stage that baby is at, she has her very own unrepeatable identity. She will grow and develop and become more and more herself. But her self does not begin at self-awareness or birth or viability or implantation or any other arbitrary line. Wanted or unwanted, she was herself from the moment of her conception. Would that we had the courage to love her just as she is.
If you’ve had an abortion, I ache for you. I don’t judge you or hate you or condemn you. I love you. Really, I do. I am so, so sorry that I couldn’t help you. But I want to help you now. Project Rachel is a post-abortive healing ministry–no judgment, just beautiful women who will weep with you when you are ready to weep. Please know that your Church loves you–your God loves you–and we want you back. More than anything, he wants you back. He has already forgiven you, even if you haven’t yet asked.
And if there is anyone who makes you feel unwelcome in the arms of Mother Church, you let me know. I’ll kick butt and take names. You are my sister and I want you home with me.