When does life begin?

Some people say human life begins at conception. Others insist the human fetus becomes a person at birth, or even at some time after birth. Still others point to a time in the middle, the twentieth week of gestation because at that point a baby is viable – or can live outside the womb. Who is right? Here are five vital signs of life in the womb for you to think about:

  1. Heartbeat: Modern technology can detect a baby's heartbeat 18 days after conception. That is only 4 days after most women miss a period and begin to suspect they are pregnant.  
  2. Brain waves: 6 weeks after conception signals from the fetal brain can be detected. Dream patterns have been discovered around 8 weeks. Perhaps more advanced technology will someday show us heartbeats and brain waves at even earlier stages in the unborn child's life.
  3. Independent movement: At 6 weeks, the baby in the womb can move spontaneously:  kicking, swimming, jumping and stretching…long before the mother will feel any movement.
  4. Senses: A baby in the womb is capable of responding to touch and sound by 8-10 weeks. A child at that age will move away from painful stimuli, the most painful of which would be the abortionist's instrument.
  5. Breathing: By week 14, a baby's lungs are functioning and he or she will practice breathing. Vocal cords are formed by week13, and were it not for a lack of air; the baby could be heard to cry!  

It's alive, but is it a person?

Many more milestones of life could be noted here, but the bottom line is, once a human egg is fertilized by sperm, a new human being has come into existence. All information concerning the child's sex, hair color, eye color, and much more is present from the very beginning.

If the newly formed being is not human life, what is it? 

Some people acknowledge that it may be human life, but say it is not yet a person. They get stuck on terms like zygote or embryo or fetus, but those are just stages of life, like infant or toddler or teenager. What are the signs of personhood?

God, the Author of all life, should have something to say about His creation, and He does! In Psalm 139:13-16, David responds with wonder at how well God knows him:

You created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place. . . . your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

God's knowledge of us before birth means that we are important to Him even then; and we should be because we are made in His image (Genesis 1:26-27). Also, His Son Jesus did not despise being "made in human likeness" (Philippians 2:7), starting out his ministry on Earth as an embryo in the womb of Mary. Finally, Jesus died on the cross to end our separation from God that was caused by sin. Romans 5:8 says:

God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Because God made us, knows all about us, and loves us, He alone has the right to determine the boundaries of our lives, including the end. From the moment of conception, every human being has worth - is a person - because we bear His image. No one can morally choose to end the life of another, even life in the womb. Abortion ends a human life, and more. Learn more about what the Bible says about life in the womb.

There are alternatives to abortion

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