What’s the Difference Between an Unborn Baby and a Fetus to Be Aborted?

What we call that little one doesn’t change reality.

By Michael Brown Published on May 18, 2018

I recently read a tragic notice about an award-winning celebrity who lost her unborn baby as a result of injuries sustained in a car crash two months ago. Her 5-year-old daughter was also killed in the crash, adding to the tragedy.

So, this young mother was seriously injured, her little girl died, and then, two months later, she lost the baby in her womb. Who among us can imagine the agony she is experiencing? I can only pray for God’s gracious intervention in her life. May He restore her grieving soul in the days to come.

But while praying for this young mother, there was something else that got my attention: It was the source of the news flash (the Huffington Post twitter account) and the terminology used (“lost her unborn baby”). The report did not say, “She lost her fetus.”

Of course not. The fetus is to be aborted; the baby is to be born. Yet they are one and the same. What we call that little one doesn’t change reality.

“How Old is Your Fetus?”

I understand, of course, that technically speaking, a fetus is an unborn baby. As defined by an online dictionary, a fetus is “an unborn offspring of a mammal, in particular an unborn human baby more than eight weeks after conception.”

But the abortion industry talks about fetuses, not babies, since it’s easier to think of a fetus in non-human terms, whereas “baby” shouts humanity. “Baby” shouts dependence and innocence. “Baby” shouts life and joy. “Baby” shouts relationship to Mommy. “Fetus” sounds clinical and cold.

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Who asks the pregnant mother, “So, how many weeks old is your fetus?” Or, “So, is the fetus a boy or girl?” Or, “So, what are you naming your fetus?”

But I’ve said nothing new in all of this. Everyone in the pro-life movement has understood this for decades, as have the leaders in the pro-abortion movement.

What We Call Someone Matters

The point I want to make is more fundamental. In short, what you perceive about another human being does not change that person’s reality.

It may change how I treat that person or relate to that person. But my perception of a person doesn’t fundamentally change that person’s reality.

In other words, an unborn baby is an unborn baby regardless of what anyone calls it. You can call it a mass of cells. You can call it a tumor. You can call it an alien entity. It is still an unborn baby.

Changing how we refer to that unborn baby and how we perceive that baby changes how we treat that little one. It does not change the nature of that little one anymore than an elephant becomes a mouse if I call it a mouse.

Who Appointed Us God?

And this leads to a weighty question. Who gave us the right to determine whether a human being is a human being? Who gave us the right to wave a magic wand over a pregnant mother’s belly and say to that tiny life within, “You are not an unborn baby! You are simply the product of conception, soon to be discarded. You are a fetus, not a child.” Who gave us that right?

We have no more right to decide that the unborn child is a “mass of cells” than the Nazis had the right to decide that Jews were semi-human parasites, worthy of extermination.

Who appointed us God? Who gave us the right to redefine reality? Who anointed our words with divine unction, so that whatever we decree a thing to be, it is?

We have no more right to decide that the unborn child is a fetus to be aborted than Americans had the right to decide that a black slave was only three-fifths of a person, to be sold as chattel.

Who appointed us God? Who gave us the right to redefine reality? Who anointed our words with divine unction, so that whatever we decree a thing to be, it is? Who said we could determine when the child in the womb is an unborn baby and when it is an inhuman mass of cells?

Two Girls

Imagine there are two little girls running down the street and playing. One of them goes home to her parents, who are so thankful for their little girl. The other is killed and thrown in the trash because her parents could not afford to care for her.

When questioned the parents say, “But she was not a little girl. She was a burden, a weight, a problem. So, we disposed of her.”

Society (and the courts) would say to those parents, “No, she is your daughter, regardless of what you call her. She is your flesh and blood, a fellow-human being. You had no right to treat her like garbage, to kill her and discard her.”

They would rightly suffer the full force of the law.

A Prayer For Mercy, Healing and Restoration

Is it any different when it comes to how we view an unborn baby? Call it what we want. Debate the issue scientifically. Say whatever we choose. The child in the womb remains an unborn baby until it is born. It does not become an unborn baby because we decide to call it one. Yet we somehow think that for the expectant mom, it’s an unborn baby but for the aborting mom, it’s a fetus. What in the world are we thinking?

May God have mercy on our debased culture. And may He bring healing and restoration to grieving mothers everywhere, including those who aborted their babies only to recognize the error of their ways. They too can be forgiven.

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