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.

Help us champion truth, freedom, limited government and human dignity. Support The Stream »

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.

Print Friendly
Comments ()
The Stream encourages comments, whether in agreement with the article or not. However, comments that violate our commenting rules or terms of use will be removed. Any commenter who repeatedly violates these rules and terms of use will be blocked from commenting. Comments on The Stream are hosted by Disqus, with logins available through Disqus, Facebook, Twitter or G+ accounts. You must log in to comment. Please flag any comments you see breaking the rules. More detail is available here.
  • Howard Rosenbaum

    Yeah. “ A rose by any other name is still a rose” …..

    • Ken Abbott

      Dagnabbit, Romeo, why are you a Montegue?! (Stamps foot in frustration, threatening to collapse the balcony.)

  • Paul

    If abortion is banned because the unborn baby is a person, then are we prepared to investigate every death of the unborn? Is a pregnant mother criminally liable if she does something that contributes to a miscarriage? If we don’t go there then we’re engaging in a different type of hypocrisy, treating the unborn person different than the born.

    • Bryan

      There are places where we have similar laws already. I think it’s Texas that will charge a drunk driver with two counts of manslaughter if the pregnant woman is killed in the crash.
      Miscarriages can happen for many reasons. Many do not involve the conscious will of the mother. I do not think that investigating every death is wise or even practical. Nor do I find it hypocritical to not do so. If there is obvious intent to harm the unborn child, then of course, it needs to be investigated. If not, then it should not. Of all people, why would you want others snooping into someone’s business?
      It is only hypocritical in the sense that the Seamless Garment argument against abortion calls us hypocritical for pro-lifers not addressing other life issues (regardless of the validity of that claim).

      • Paul

        “If there is obvious intent to harm the unborn child, then of course, it needs to be ”

        Obvious to who? How would anyone know without some form of investigation or autopsy or a physician reporting mechanism? Each state will set their own legal parameters in this regards.

        If an unborn baby is fully human then do they deserve the same legal protections as any other human in a jurisdiction or not?

        • Bryan

          If there’s a miscarriage, there is usually a physical exam, if only because there is blood or pain that is experienced by the mother. So there is already a mechanism to determine preliminary cause for the miscarriage. There doesn’t have to be more investigation than this, if it’s not warranted.
          Your original post was about the hypocrisy of not investigating every death. There is no hypocrisy if abortion is eliminated and the current system of medical diagnoses and reporting is maintained.

          • Paul

            “There is no hypocrisy if abortion is eliminated and the current system of medical diagnoses and reporting is maintained.”

            Are you saying that today the same level of medical examination, autopsy and or investigation happens in a miscarriage as when an infant is found dead at home?

          • Bryan

            I’m not saying there is but I don’t think there necessarily should be. Not because the unborn child is less worthy, but because there are generally natural causes that explain the miscarriage which are determined by a physician. If there are unnatural causes evident, those should be examined and investigated as necessary.
            What you are saying (if I read your original post correctly) is that every miscarriage from conception to stillborn, should be investigated as a potential crime until proven otherwise. Even if you back pedal to innocent until proven guilty, you’re still beyond the bounds of reason. And it is unnecessary for the pro-life position to demand this treatment of miscarriage in order to remain free of hypocrisy.

          • Paul

            “What you are saying (if I read your original post correctly) is that every miscarriage from conception to stillborn, should be investigated as a potential crime until proven otherwise”

            No, I’m saying they should be handled the same as a born baby.

          • Bryan

            How am I treating them otherwise? In my understanding we are only dealing with miscarriages, not abortions, which are a different topic that we both agree on.

          • Paul

            Consider the use of RU 486, it is effective in ending pregnancy in any trimester. Is it a miscarriage or abortion? How would anyone know if there isn’t some form of testing. If a pregnant woman uses alcohol or other drugs is that a form of criminal child abuse on par with whiskey in the baby bottle? Or what about an american traveling to a foreign country to have an abortion, will that be prosecuted the same as if I deliberately killed my 5 yr old kid? I invite you to think about the possibilities.

  • Patmos

    Knowing the history of public relations, the use of the word “fetus” was pretty clearly a deliberate choice, and it worked too. That small deceptive twist helped divert people’s attention from their conscience, and now we have women shouting their abortions in an attempt to drown out that same conscience.

    The thing about the Holy Spirit is it cannot be extinguished, no matter the level of the shouting, no matter the level of deceit. That same Spirit is also gentle enough to welcome home the prodigal, and I hope these people ignoring their conscience make it home.

  • tz1

    There is a word beginning with the letter N which is an epithet for Black people.
    There is a word begining with K which is an epithet for Jews.
    There are words which are epithets for other ethnic groups, women, the disabled, etc.

    But the F-Word, “fetus”, an epithet for a baby who is incovenient, unwanted, hated, can be applied, and can even be lynched in a horrible hate crime by being dismembered and having their head crushed.

    The strange fruit hanging from trees in Georgia were N******
    The people loaded into cattle cars, then into Xylkon showers and crematoria were K****
    And the babies who are poisoned, strangled, dismembered are Fetuses.

Inspiration
To God be the Glory
James Robison
More from The Stream
Connect with Us