The cross-party Oireachtas committee in Dublin has recommended that abortion up to twelve weeks be made available to any woman who asks for one. The debate leading up to the repeal of the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which would be necessary to make the Oireachtas committee’s recommendation law, will generate a great deal of strong feeling on both sides of the argument.
In any rational argument or discussion, it’s important to deal in facts, however inconvenient they may be. So here are some facts about a 12-week-old foetus/baby.
What does it look like?
- At 12 weeks you can hear the foetus/baby’s heart-beat. It’ll be around 160 beats a minute – twice that of a normal adult
- Its finger and toenails appear
- It can suck its thumb and gets hiccups
- Its pancreas is functioning and producing insulin.
- It has a chin, a nose, a face.
- Its vocal chords are complete and it can cry silently.
- Its brain is fully formed
- It can feel pain.
What happens when a 12-week old foetus/baby is aborted?
- Assuming that the abortion is done surgically, the cervix is dilated, a tube attached to a suction machine is inserted, so that the placenta and the developing foetus/baby can be suctioned out.
- After the abortion, the doctor examines what has been suctioned out, to make sure no part of the foetus/baby has been left behind. S/he needs to place the suctioned parts of the foetus/baby together, to verify that it has two arms, two legs, etc.
I’m not sure what the coming debate in the south will achieve, since the division is clear from the start. If you believe that what is in the womb is a small human being, then you will be opposed to abortion: causing pain to a tiny defenceless human being, let alone ripping him/her apart, is unthinkable. If you believe that what is in the womb is not a small human being, then you will be happy to give your assent to the suctioning of this non-human from the womb and disposing of its pieces.
Whether the foetus/baby is the result of incest or rape will not change any of the above facts.