In which I talk about abortion and upset everyone

A lot of my friends on twitter have been discussing abortion from a feminist pro-choice point of view. Many of my friends on Facebook have mentioned abortion from a Catholic pro-life point of view and requested that I go and sign petitions or join groups against it. I’ve decided to try and work out what I think, and probably upset all the Christians AND the feminists in one go. This is an emotive subject and it can’t be written about or debate without upsetting someone. I have been assured by several people that they will still be my friend whatever I write here, so I just want to remind them that I have that in writing! If you’re going to be upset by reading opinions, or call me names because of it, don’t read this.

As a thirty-something man I often feel that feminists think I am not allowed to comment on some issues. I comment here as a husband who knows what it is like for his wife to have a pregnancy scare at a bad time, and also as a former Christian, a skeptic and an advocate of science. I am not telling anyone what to believe, and I do not force anyone to change their behaviour because of my opinion on this subject. This is what I think, not what I am telling you to think. So don’t attack me on it.

Unlike the idea parodied in the famous Monty Python song, I don’t believe that every sperm is sacred, nor every egg, and not even every fertilised egg. How can it be, when of thousands of sperm and thousands of eggs, only a very few will meet and fertilise, and of those, most will not implant, and even then, a blastocyst may well not stay attached to the lining of the womb? The logic that says otherwise does not stand up to scrutiny. Accordingly, I have no problem with the morning after pill. (There goes the Christian vote.)

At some point between fertilisation and birth, a fetus becomes a living human being, conscious, and capable of feeling pain. We don’t know at what point that happens. Once you have a baby that can move, kick and feel pain, I think a woman’s choice is no longer relevant. There are two people involved, not just the mother. The baby is a living being, a human, and has human rights. End of story.  (There goes the feminist vote.) I am fairly sure that self awareness and learning to respond to outside stimulus continues long after birth, and so what is the difference in consciousness between a 23.5 week old fetus and a week old baby? That is a genuine question, I’m not trying to evoke emotion to back an argument either way.

Currently the law allows abortion up to 24 weeks through a pregnancy. Some MPs have campaigned for that limit to be reduced to 20 weeks. The earliest known surviving birth is at 21 weeks. I believe that the 24 week limit is political, not based on facts. I’ve heard a fetus described as “just a clump of cells” but I have also seen abortion decscribed as “deliberate procedure of hacking an unborn child to pieces in the womb.”  In reality the development of a baby is a continuum and we do not know enough to be able to pinpoint a change between clump of cells and living baby.

In 2007 the commons science committee investigated the issue. A Guardian report said this:

“A report on the scientific issues surrounding abortion published yesterday by the Commons science and technology select committee finds that survival rates of babies born before 24 weeks are not high enough to warrant cutting the limit.”

I strongly object to that phrase “not high enough to warrant” as I am of the opinion that any possibility of survival from that early means that an abortion could be ending the life of a living being. Ultimately though, I have no more knowledge of when the limit should be than anyone else does.

I accept that abortion is a necessary evil in some cases. UK law currently allows an abortion to take place later than 24 weeks in certain circumstances:

  • if it is necessary to save the woman’s life
  • to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman
  • if there is substantial risk that if the child were born, it would suffer from physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.

I think those are a good guideline for when an abortion should happen at all, not just when a late abortion is allowed. I don’t like the idea of aborting a baby because of detected illneses, but I can live with that. I certainly don’t like the idea of ending pregnancy for other reasons such as finance, career, or just not wanting to be a parent. I honestly don’t know what I think in the case of rape.

However, and this is important, where I have said that I don’t like it, that is my opinion and I do not have any right to force that on anyone else and so I won’t.

Soph Warnes has put up a very insightful response with lots of links to more information on her blog.

Author: Latentexistence

The world is broken and I can't fix it because I am broken. I can, however, rant about it all and this is where I do that when I can get my thoughts together. Most of the time you'll find my words on Twitter rather than here though. I sometimes write for Where's The Benefit too.

19 thoughts on “In which I talk about abortion and upset everyone”

  1. This makes me think; Why is it OK to kill a plant? I’m not being facetious here. Why is it? The plant is alive, after-all, so life alone is obviously not part of our criteria in what is morally acceptable.

    I think the key differences are 1) A plant has no consciousness, and 2) The plant does not have the capacity for suffering, due to its lack of conciseness.

    So far so good. We can kill plants safe in the knowledge that they won’t suffer and they won’t even know they didn’t suffer. But why then, do we kill animals? Animals may lack self-conciousness, but they are certainly conscious – albeit on a different level to us – and they undoubtably have the capacity to suffer fear and pain. But they are animals, not humans, so they don’t get the same rights as us and can be reared precisely so that we can murder and eat them.

    What does this mean in relation to abortion? It seems to me there are two polar schools of thought.

    On one side you have religious reasoning, which says that human beings have a worth above and beyond all other life, and should always be treated as if sacred (it also says – in Abrahamic religions at least – that killing animals, plants and humans if they are infidels, is fine.) By this ‘logic’ abortion is wrong because you are destroying a sacred life, according to God. (Interestingly, under the Catholic faith human beings are the only creatures with ‘souls’, which has led to some appalling animal rights in Catholic countries, so distinct is the separation in people’s empathy)

    The other train of thought – rationalism/humanism/materialism, bases its morality not on an absolute rule ordained from above, but on reason. I personally couldn’t care less if a life doesn’t come into existence. Millions of natural abortions take place all the time. My reasoning for being against killing humans is 1) they have the capacity for suffering, 2) they have human rights, the upholding of which benefit us all. This doesn’t apply to a foetus, so a foetus doesn’t have human rights.

    If I know 100% that an unborn child would feel no pain whatsoever, and isn’t conscious at all, I find it being terminated no more troubling than the work of your average florist. A woman being forced to give birth to and bring up and unwanted child is, in comparison, deeply troubling, for her sake and that of the child.

    1. “On one side you have religious reasoning, which says that human beings have a worth above and beyond all other life” – I don’t think you have to be religious to see humans as being above animals.

      Even accepting the interdependence (and hence unique importance) of different species within an ecosystem, I think most people implicitly or explicitly rank living things in some kind of order. You don’t need religion, or even a GCSE in biology to do this. I would suggest that it’s very difficult _not_ to do it. In doing so, most cultures rank babies quite highly – whichever side of the birth canal they happen to be.

      “If I know 100% that an unborn child would feel no pain whatsoever, and isn’t conscious at all, I find it being terminated no more troubling than the work of your average florist.” And if you know 100% that it can feel pain and is conscious at a given time?

      If I give you a drug to remove your pain and consciousness, am I free to practice floristry on you?

      While it’s probably obvious which side of the debate I lean towards, I’m not attempting to provide definitive arguments. I don’t have any. I’m just suggesting that the arguments you provide don’t work at all. They’re also too flippant for such a difficult subject – but hey, that’s the blogosphere.

      Cheers,
      David.

  2. I think in that your reliance on scientific logic you may possibly have dismissed an important factor, the emotional effect on the mother. I realise that all my evidence is anecdotal, but, as you know. my researching skills are a bit impaired at the moment. Some years ago I knew two people who discovered around the same time that their baby was anencephalic. This means that there is absolutely no chance of the baby surviving for more than a few minutes, if that. One of these people, a relative of ours, followed medical advice and had an abortion, at around 20 weeks gestation. She then had a nervous breakdown and took years to recover.. The other person resisted the hospital’s very forceful advice to abort and decided to carry the baby for as long as possible, in the full knowledge that he could not live. The hospital refused to treat her any longer, and she eventually gave birth with the help of a sympathetic friend who was a GP. surrounded by loving family. She was able to hold her baby, photograph him, grieve and have a funeral. You know this person, and that she made a full recovery and went on to have two more children. Science dictated that abortion was the logical course of action but the effect on the mother was catastrophic.

    I have met other women who had an abortion, for reasons which made perfect sense to them at the time and spent years regretting it. I know other women who gave up their baby for adoption and felt some satisfaction that their baby would be loved and provided for. There is evidence (somewhere) that the emotional disturbance caused by abortion is considerable. My own experience of losing a child at the very end of a pregnancy (you probably don’t remember how upset we all were, including you) gives me some idea of the trauma of a late abortion. And who can say for sure what quality of lifea child will have? Doctors can be wrong.

    Regarding the question of when the clump of cells becomes a child, and leaving aside the debate about this, I know that I felt that my babies were people from the moment I felt them move and respond to outside stimuli. I’ve seen a 12-week foetus – it is a tiny, perfectly formed, complete baby. It’s not independently viable, but neither is a newborn, full-term baby. And I think there may be some evidence (again, I can’t see well enough to find the evidence, but it’s out there) that babies in the womb can feel pain. They certainly don’t like being prodded.

    You are right that abortion is an incredibly emotive issue, and I’m not attacking you, but I am saying that maybe you could approach your reasoning from more than a scientific perspective.

    By the way, not all Christians are completely anti-abortilon, and I don’t believe what I do just because the church tells me to. And, Mack79, it’s not just the Catholic church that says that animals do not have souls, so that was a bit of a cheap jibe.

    Sorry this is so long. delete it if you want.

    Christine.

    1. Christine.

      The emotional effect on the mother applies to both sides of the argument. My mother had an abortion and has no problem at all. Had she completed the pregnancy it would have ruined our family and possibly our lives. Forcing a mother to give birth to an unwanted child can also have significant psychological consequences which can also affect the child. I don’t think saying that Catholics’s elevate humans beyond other life forms because of the assertion we have a soul and they don’t is a cheap jibe just because other religions do too. And yea, some non-religious people also do. I think it is a key divide between a lot of people’s thinking which is at the heart og the entire debate.

      1. TThe cheap jibe was attributing a country’s ill-treatment of animals to Catholic teaching. It seems to me that animals are widely abused by people of all religions and none, so why single out the Catholic church?

        I don’t think that anyone has yet proved that any animals are sentient, so I do consider humans to be on a different plane to other creatures. This does not mean that we are excused from treating animals humanely,

        Forcing a mother to give birth to and keep an unwanted child can certainly psychologically harm the child, but no-one is being compelled to rear their unwanted children. I am questioning whether we have the right to terminate a pregnancy for any reason other than to save the life of the mother, since I believe that a child, even before birth, is a unique individual.

        1. It might be an uncomfortable thing for me to mention, but I’m afraid that doesn’t make it any less true. Yes, individuals of all types of faith and faithlessness are cruel to animals and do all other immoral things, but there is a big difference between an individual acting independently and the organised ritual torture of animals and the prevalent lack of empathy for them in societies where these things take place. I lived in Spain for nine years and there is a clear difference in attitudes (bullfighting and many other types of animal torture) between people there and here.

          “Forcing a mother to give birth to and keep an unwanted child can certainly psychologically harm the child, but no-one is being compelled to rear their unwanted children. I am questioning whether we have the right to terminate a pregnancy for any reason other than to save the life of the mother, since I believe that a child, even before birth, is a unique individual.”

          What about the psychological damage to the mother? Why is her well-being always so irrelevant in these scenarios? If you think we do not have the right; “to terminate a pregnancy for any reason other than to save the life of the mother”, then you are indeed compelling mothers to “rear their unwanted children”, if they are unwanted for reasons other than that they pose a threat to the mothers own life.

          What if the doctor says the baby will survive birth but the mother won’t? Must we, as David says, be biased in favour to towards the baby because it has less ‘control’?

          I’m also interested to know at what point people of faith think the soul enters the body. At birth, at conception, or at a specific point during pregnancy. I’m not being facetious, and I guess I could just Google it, but I think if the human soul is part of anyone’s reasoning then that must be a fairly important question.

          1. ‘What if the doctor says the baby will survive birth but the mother won’t? Must we, as David says, be biased in favour to towards the baby because it has less ‘control’?’

            The official teaching of the Catholic church is that if it is a choice between saving the mother or the baby, the mother should be saved.

            My personal belief is that the baby is a separate individual, neither completely of the mother or the father, as soon as conception has occured and therefore a soul is present. Other ‘persons of faith’ may disagree about this.

  3. Whichever side of the debate you sit, the “problem” with the viability argument (simplistically stated: “you shouldn’t abort at an age where, if born, the baby would/could survive”) is that this age will decrease with scientific progress, and depends on the medical facilities available. Whichever side of the debate you sit, this can’t be satisfactory. Pro choice people: look forward to the day when abortion is basically illegal. Pro life people: accept that we’re willing thousands of babies now that we won’t be able to kill ten or twenty years hence. The result: what at first glance looks like a reasonable and logical approach is revealed to be, well, not the neat answer it at first appears.

    In America, they seem to breed polar opposites in most debates. Not sure why. And that’s not a racist / culturalist quip – many Americans recognise this problem. However, elsewhere this happens less so. Pro Life doesn’t necessarily mean religious. Pro Choice doesn’t necessarily mean atheist.

    Cheers,
    David.

    1. David.

      “”On one side you have religious reasoning, which says that human beings have a worth above and beyond all other life” – I don’t think you have to be religious to see humans as being above animals.” No, neither do I, which is why I said ‘religious reasoning’ which can be used by non-religious people. I’d include spiritualists and anyone who thinks there is some kind of transcendent value to human life.

      “If I give you a drug to remove your pain and consciousness, am I free to practice floristry on you?” Obviously not, because I am a human and therefore have human rights. Human rights are generally based on pervasive morals, which are in turn derived from what has a beneficial evolutionary effect on society: if it was socially acceptable to drug me and murder me that would impact on society negatively – not only because some people might be more likely to do it – but our knowledge of what is permissible psychologically impacts on us collectively. Such behaviours are deemed anti-social, become taboo, and are marginalised through the penal system. If I was shown evidence that merely allowing abortion in society also impacted on our collective well-being somehow, I’d consider that good reason to adjust my position.

      “Even accepting the interdependence (and hence unique importance) of different species within an ecosystem, I think most people implicitly or explicitly rank living things in some kind of order. You don’t need religion, or even a GCSE in biology to do this.” Just because ‘most people’ do something doesn’t validate it, and I’d guess people probably ‘rank species’ less the more they learn about evolution and genetics. Some people go a bit further and rank races, favouring their own, and we tend to go further than that and value our own family members above more distant relations. Some people value all lifeforms equally, and I don’t think it’s your place to suggest that someone who does so is less moral or intelligent for doing so. To me it seems like a heightened level of ethical enlightenment. Also, if the ‘unique importance’ of ‘different species within an ecosystem’ was part of your criteria for ranking lifeforms, then logically, humans should be right at the bottom, as we are at the top of the food chain having a negative, rather than positive impact on other life as a whole.

      I don’t understand what you mean by this: “Pro life people: accept that we’re willing thousands of babies now that we won’t be able to kill ten or twenty years hence”

      “I’m just suggesting that the arguments you provide don’t work at all.” Well if you insist on applying a higher value on human life then no, I don’t suppose they do. But I don’t make that assumption. I don’t de-value human life, I just elevate all other life to the same level – which forces me to question why it is I have more problem with someone killing a human than an animal. The answer is obvious; a combination of knowing the human has consciousness and a greater capacity to suffer, and the increased instinctual kinship (which isn’t necessarily moral) I have for humans. I don’t have the same level of kinship for an unfeeling, unthinking foetus as I do for its sentient mother, which is why my empathy lies first and foremost with her.

      Sorry you think I’m flippant because I don’t adhere to your psuedo-reasoning. I actually think this subject is very complex (ethics, genetics, psychology) and am not ‘fixed’ on any position myself, because morality is such a malleable thing. What seems ethical in one scenario can suddenly seem very inhumane in slightly different circumstances, which is why I mentioned the religious aspect. I don’t believe in absolute moral truths – which is essentially what religion is – as I think they encourage a dogmatic rigidity which can sometimes lead us away from being moral. History is littered with examples of this.

      1. “”I’m just suggesting that the arguments you provide don’t work at all.” Well if you insist on applying a higher value on human life then no, I don’t suppose they do. But I don’t make that assumption. I don’t de-value human life, I just elevate all other life to the same level – which forces me to question why it is I have more problem with someone killing a human than an animal. The answer is obvious; a combination of knowing the human has consciousness and a greater capacity to suffer…”

        Is this true? How do you know? Is it a binary decision (suffer / not suffer; conscious / not conscious) or a sliding scale? If it’s a sliding scale, why draw the distinction where you do?

        “and the increased instinctual kinship (which isn’t necessarily moral) I have for humans.” – which seems pretty similar to ranking by “likeness”, which you’ve already rejected.

        It looks neither logical nor rational to me – merely post-hoc rationalisation of an already made decision. But maybe not – your second post didn’t sound flippant, and obviously I don’t know you.

        “I don’t have the same level of kinship for an unfeeling, unthinking foetus as I do for its sentient mother, which is why my empathy lies first and foremost with her.”

        Let me challenge this again: I see no medical evidence that a 23 week foetus is unfeeling and unthinking. The overwhelming evidence is to the contrary. In grown up human terms, it might not do much – but the same is true of a new born.

        The top Google hit was this…
        http://www.spuc.org.uk/ethics/abortion/human-development
        …though I note it’s hardly an unbiassed source!

        A newborn baby seems less intelligent than our pet cat. I know – I’ve had two (children, not cats). But after a few months, things switch around. The difference between the new born and the toddler is immense. The difference between the new born and the 23 week old foetus is far less. Yet I would be equally in trouble for harming the new born or the toddler, while at 23 weeks abortion is legal (albeit comparatively rare). There is no logic to this situation. It’s a legacy from being unable to move out of political deadlock on the issue.

        The other obvious though not always entirely true point is that the mother has more choice and control in the situation than the foetus – just like the mother has more choice and control in the situation than the new born. That’s why we don’t merely rule in favour of the more sentient being – if anything, we have to bias the scales against the one with more control to protect the interests of the one with less.

        We’re happy to do this with physically separate beings in a wide variety of scenarios, but the complexity is that the two are one in this case.

        Cheers,
        David.

        P.S. “If I was shown evidence that merely allowing abortion in society also impacted on our collective well-being somehow, I’d consider that good reason to adjust my position.” The interesting thing is that, if there is any evidence (it’s mostly circumstantial, but numerous), it’s that preventing the unwanted from being born is very beneficial to society. Birth control brings the biggest benefit, but abortion “helps” too. Of course I would argue that if we could do it all through birth control, and avoid abortion entirely, then things would be better still. I’m not sure I have the evidence to back this up to your satisfaction, but then it would be interesting to see what evidence anyone could possibly dream up for the counter argument: “better for birth control to fail or be missed and to catch the misses with abortions than for birth control to be 100% effective”? No, that would be mad.

        That may be a straw man argument. I don’t have time to type the more nuance version, though I suspect it’s obvious.

  4. Is this true? How do you know? Is it a binary decision (suffer / not suffer; conscious / not conscious) or a sliding scale? If it’s a sliding scale, why draw the distinction where you do?

    Well I assume you accept that human beings have a greater level of consciousness than animals, and that that brings the capacity for anguish, anxiety and stress etc. I take your questioning as disingenuous.

    “”and the increased instinctual kinship (which isn’t necessarily moral) I have for humans.” – which seems pretty similar to ranking by “likeness”, which you’ve already rejected.”

    Yes, I have. Just because instincts impact on my I don’t think that qualifies them as ‘moral’ or means they should be acted on.

    “It looks neither logical nor rational to me – merely post-hoc rationalisation of an already made decision. But maybe not – your second post didn’t sound flippant, and obviously I don’t know you.”

    It helps to point out ‘why’ when making statements like this. And it’s probably best that you don’t make assumptions. Again, the hypocrisy is here is obvious. I’ve spent a decent amount of time discussing, considering and reading around this subject. For ‘post-hoc’ reasoning, look no further than:

    1) God is all powerful
    2) According to a book God says humans are made in his own image, therefore;
    3) Abortion is wrong.

    If you want to actually explain why my reasoning is flawed I’d happily consider you points, but simply stating it so without backing it up doesn’t add much to the debate.

    I don’t see how this;

    “Let me challenge this again: I see no medical evidence that a 23 week foetus is unfeeling and unthinking. The overwhelming evidence is to the contrary. In grown up human terms, it might not do much – but the same is true of a new born.”

    challenges this;

    “I don’t have the same level of kinship for an unfeeling, unthinking foetus as I do for its sentient mother, which is why my empathy lies first and foremost with her.”

    Because I never said a 23 week old foetus, does not, feel pain. I thought I made it clear that my criteria would be a lack of consciousness and no capacity for suffering regardless of at what point that might be.

    You are right. That source is clearly biased so should be discounted. It isn’t difficult to find out what the actual scientific consensus on it is.

    “A newborn baby seems less intelligent than our pet cat. I know – I’ve had two (children, not cats). But after a few months, things switch around. The difference between the new born and the toddler is immense. The difference between the new born and the 23 week old foetus is far less. Yet I would be equally in trouble for harming the new born or the toddler, while at 23 weeks abortion is legal (albeit comparatively rare). There is no logic to this situation. It’s a legacy from being unable to move out of political deadlock on the issue.”

    “The other obvious though not always entirely true point is that the mother has more choice and control in the situation than the foetus – just like the mother has more choice and control in the situation than the new born. That’s why we don’t merely rule in favour of the more sentient being – if anything, we have to bias the scales against the one with more control to protect the interests of the one with less.”

    I don’t think something’s capacity to change and develop should grant it more consideration. Caterpillars go through an almighty change, so what? And I’m not sure what intelligence has to do with it. I know religion liked to ‘cast out’ people with mental health problems and learning disabilities but secular thinkers generally deem intellect to be an irrelevance when it comes to rights and ethics. You may be right that the 23 week mark should be changed, I don’t have strong opinions about that – I’m happy to trust whatever the scientific consensus says if the point of the foetus being able to feel.

    I have more control than a plant or chicken too. The key thing is that the same factors which give me increased control give me an increased capacity to suffer. We don’t judge it OK for a mother to murder a newborn because of the reasons I’ve already stated, those don’t apply to something which has no consciousness and can’t suffer. I’d also point out the foetus has no will, so to assume aborting it would be somehow against its interests is false. You say ‘more sentient’ which is a fallacy, because the woman is the ONLY sentient being.

    It amuses me that you question my logic while saying things like this;

    “That’s why we don’t merely rule in favour of the more sentient being – if anything, we have to bias the scales against the one with more control to protect the interests of the one with less.”

    Do we? Really? We put down ‘less sentient’ animals when they attack humans, but if a human being does the same – without the excuse of innocence – we treat them less severely. Why? Because our compassion correlates to our kinship (rightly or wrongly), and with most of us, to and the capacity to suffer of the subject. And who is to say it is within the interests of the child to grant them a possible harsh and painful existence?

    Your position is to relinquish the basic human rights of a walking, talking person in favour of something which can’t think or feel and may never even be born anyway. I can’t see anyway how this can be an empathetic or humane position and think only doctrine or irrational belief can result in such a lack of compassion for a being with great capacity for suffering.

    I think the best argument against abortion is that if we allowed it to be a completely routine thing (it never will be and will always be taboo) it might lead to a dilution of the valuing of life as a whole, which would be to society’s detriment.

    Cheers

  5. “Interesting how [people] describe a baby as a foetus.

    When a pregnant mum has a 20 week scan she is asked if she would like to see her baby on the screen. She is given a print out of a picture of her baby to keep, like this one at 20 weeks.

    No mum or couple are ever asked “would you like to see your foetus?” or “would you like a print out of your foetus to keep for the baby album?””

    from

    http://blog.dorries.org/id-1011-2008_6_G2.aspx

    I found that while googling for a picture of a foetus(!) at 20 weeks. Which I found here…
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/1xtra/tx/gallery/foetus_stages.shtml?select=02#main

    I’m not sure why anyone would think you need religion of any kind to look at that picture, and be very concerned that it’s legal to kill it.

      1. http://www.google.co.uk/search?sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=foetus+20+weeks

        image search
        top right (on my screen – it’s the 20 week ultrasound scan)

        scrolled down to find it in the actual page.

        I know no more about this person than that.

        But interesting that you know who she is and assume that I do to, and that I agree with whatever else she may think.

        Having checked, she was a local MP in the next constituency to ours when we lived in Bedfordshire! Didn’t have any dealings with her, though I think I saw her mug in the local free press. I found Alistair Burt (our MP) quite helpful and a seemingly decent bloke. Of course this is when the Tories were in opposition.

        1. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have assumed that you knew about her. I mentioned her a couple of days ago in “If you can tweet you can work.”

          She is notorious for her attitude to disabled benefits claimants, and she is under police investigation for expenses discrepancies. She publicly accused someone of stalking her as an excuse for her lying about her primary home.

  6. Well that is interesting David, but only in the sense that it is interesting that you allow ignorance to inform your opinion and consistently try to twist things to suit your predetermined dogmatic agenda. A few simple clicks gave this dictionary definition for the word ‘baby’. Note no. 5.

    1. an infant or very young child.

    2. a newborn or very young animal.

    3. the youngest member of a family, group, etc.

    4. an immature or childish person.

    5. a human fetus.

    I used to call my girlfriend ‘baby’, too David. Do you think that is relevant too?

  7. I was having a discussion yesterday with someone who has never been pregnant, who wanted to know why I say ‘baby’ instead of ‘foetus’. I know that the correct term is ‘foetus’, but having had five pregnancies, I find that I cannot be objective enough not to call it a baby. They move about, if you poke them they sometimes poke back, they respond to music, they have regular ‘nap times’ when they don’t move so much, in ultrasound pictures it looks like a baby, and all instincts (in me, anyway) were to nurture and love the child/foetus inside me. We don’t announce, ‘I’m carrying a foetus.’ We say, ’I’m expecting a baby.’ There’s no ‘predetermined dogmatic agenda’, just actual experience..

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