Is it possible for someone to exist before their mother was even pregnant? Sounds like I’m are talking about IVF, but I’m are actually talking about normal, natural pregnancy. If your local contraceptive promoter is correct, then you existed before your mother was pregnant with you. Here’s the (il)logic of it:
Not long after the pill was discovered, it was found that it could prevent an embryo from implanting into the uterus. By the definition of pregnancy used back then (and commonly used now), this is an abortion. One solution to the ‘problem’ was to redefine pregnancy to start at implantation. This is exactly what ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists) and many pro-abortion organisations did.
So how widely is this definition of pregnancy used? Pretty much exclusively for the promotion of abortifacient contraception, and human embryo research.
It’s not the definition that’s used for estimating due dates in maternity care.
When a pregnant women has her due date worked out by her doctor or midwife, the calculation starts from her last menstrual period. This is her gestational age. It’s a convenient measure of pregnancy, because the last menstrual period is a notable event to start calculations. Conception (fertilisation) is a hidden event, and generally takes place approximately 15 days after the ‘start’ date. But the counting here is a convenience, and no one tries to mislead the women that she was ‘with baby’ before fertilisation. Most online pregnancy calculators even calculate an estimated date of conception (fertilisation)1. Any good doctor or midwife will explain this to the pregnant women.
The second way of dating pregnancy is foetal age (sometimes called embryonic age or fertilisation age). It’s used in ultrasound, because in early pregnancy its possible to use the size of the growing baby to work out his or her age. This is the age from fertilisation. Although for convenience, it’s often converted to gestational age.
Both measures of pregnancy include fertilisation.
So why this new, and not so well used definition of pregnancy?
It’s purely political. And it leads the ridiculous situation when a women is told that she wasn’t pregnant for about the first week of her baby’s existence. This isn’t a simple convenience in dating the pregnancy, it’s actually meant to mislead women. If she’s considering using an IUD or taking the morning after pill, and asks if it can cause an abortion, she will be told “No”. That might suit the definition of pregnancy of the person giving the answer. But it’s not addressing the concerns of the women. And by the commonly held and used definition of pregnancy, that answer has the moral equivalence of a lie.
This is also an issue when interpreting the consumer information on ‘contraceptives’ too. When a medication can prevent implantation, the manufacturer’s description almost always says that it ‘prevents the implantation of a fertilised egg’. That’s when they bother to mention it at all. At this stage of human development, the ‘fertilised egg’ is called a blastocyst. And just before implantation the blastocyst has 200-300 cells, not just the single cell of a fertilised egg. There is even differentiation of tissue into cells that will become the placenta. A ‘fertilised egg’ isn’t a good decryption anymore. It’s an attempt to dehumanise the baby, In the IVF industry, they use the more generic term of embryo at this stage. They reserve the term ‘egg’ to describe the ova that they collect from women undergoing IVF.
There was once a defence for the ‘pregnancy at implantation’ claims. When the claim was first made, it wasn’t possible the detect pregnancy until after implantation. That is no longer true. There is an assay that can detect pregnancy 24-48 hours after fertilisation. It’s called the Rosette inhibition assay. Unfortunately it isn’t commercially available. But it has been used in research, and it allows scientists to eavesdrop on part of the early biochemical conversation between the child and their mother. A conversation that begins before implantation.
During this time the tiny baby (blastocyst) announces their presence biochemically to his or her mother. And the mother responds by altering her immune system so she can nurture and protect her child. It’s intimate and nurturing interaction.
Surely this deserves to be called pregnancy.
- http://www.babycenter.com/pregnancy-due-date-calculator, http://www.pregnancycalculator.co.nz/, http://pregnancy.about.com/cs/pregnancycalendar/l/blpregcalc.htm, http://www.huggies.co.nz/pregnancy/early-stages/due-date-calculator/