Treating the Unborn in an Era of Abortion

Rob Schwarzwalder is Senior Vice President at Family Research Council. This article appeared in Religion Today on January 22, 2014.

This week we mark the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision to allow elective abortion on demand, Roe v. Wade. In the intervening decades, more than 50 million unborn children have perished because of Roe, and millions of American women bear the enduring pain of those losses.

But also in the intervening decades, remarkable strides have been taken in the medical community to protect the lives of babies developing in the womb. Here are just a few of the amazing surgeries and treatments that are saving unborn lives:

Groundbreaking treatment has been launched at Medway Maritime Hospital (in Great Britain) allowing doctors to carry out life-saving blood transfusions on babies while they are still in the womb. The hospital is the first in Kent to offer the procedure, which is called an intrauterine blood transfusion and which is necessary when a baby shows signs of anemia ... The intrauterine blood transfusion is carried out under a local anesthetic and involves a needle inserted through the mother's abdomen into the baby's umbilical cord with the use of ultrasound guidance.

Medical professionals from Switzerland, Singapore and Taiwan successfully transferred stem cells to cure Osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bone disease, in a fetus ... the mother went to Singapore where mesenchymal stem cells (derived from adult connective tissue) cultivated by Switzerland's Karolinska Institute were injected into a vein of the fetus at 31 weeks. Within two weeks, the fetus' broken bones were healed except for her right thigh. After the girl was born, she grew more slowly than normal. She underwent a second stem cell treatment in Singapore at one and a half years old. Now she is almost five and can sing, dance and run like other children and has not experienced any further bone fractures, doctors said.

(A study in) Canada ... looked at the effect exercise had on pregnant women and their unborn babies. The researchers involved women who were in their first trimester of pregnancy ... After birth, the babies' brains were tested using specialized caps consisting of 124 soft electrodes that detected the brain's electrical activity before the babies went to sleep. Once the infants were asleep, the scientists used an EEG to measure the response of the infants' brains to a series of sounds, some of which were new and some of which were familiar. The researchers found that the babies whose mothers were physically active actually had more mature brains. The researchers also will be evaluating the babies' cognitive development, motor development and language development and plan to follow the babies for at least a year in order to analyze whether the benefits of their mother's exercising while pregnant lasts for a long time.

A wire the width of a hair. A balloon just a few millimeters wide. A needle measuring 11 centimeters exactly. These were the tools that a team of doctors in Los Angeles used to open up a narrow aortic valve in the heart of a 25-week-old fetus still growing in its mom's belly. The procedure is known as a fetal aortic valvuloplasty.

My question: If the unborn child is merely a collation of cells, a collection of tissue and blood, why bother with these treatments and surgeries?

Because we know, without scientific quantification or philosophical reasoning, that the unborn child is a person deserving of the right to life. As Paul the Apostle writes, there is a law written on the heart (Romans 2:15), and one of value before God and one another.

No law, however insidious or destructive, can ever change that ineradicable knowledge.