The Biology of Prenatal Development: Must Viewing

 

By Dave Andrusko

BiologyprenatalI do my best to link our readers to the best educational resources, the kind that I use and recommend to my friends and family. Well, one example—a terrific example—is www.womansrighttoknow.org which I was looking at just this afternoon.

This is the informed consent site managed by the state of Kansas, with a 24-hour hotline. To ensure that women have a chance to make an informed decision, prior to any Kansas abortion, the mother must sign that she accessed the state-prepared information in written form or on this website.

When you open the site, you see a tiny six-week-old unborn baby with an actively-beating heart. It is a real stunner.

As you look off to the left at the resources, there is the fascinating Prenatal Image Gallery. This is the portal to day-by-day, high-resolution 4-D ultrasound imaging of the developing child, with positive, scientifically-accurate audio commentary.

The video portal was developed and is maintained by the politically-neutral EHD group [the Endowment for Human Development] with a DVD distributed by the National Geographic Society. What can we say about EHD’s work? “The Biology of Prenatal Development” opens with this:

“Biologically speaking, human development begins at fertilization, when a woman and a man each combine 23 of their own chromosomes through the union of their reproductive cells.”

EHD describes itself both as “a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving health science education and public health” and as “committed to neutrality regarding all controversial bioethical issues.” “The Biology of Prenatal Development” is 42 minutes long and adheres to its promise of neutrality, which is, of course, fine by us but anathema to pro-abortionists.

First, let me give you a description of the DVD.

“This award-winning science documentary features rare imagery of the living human embryo and fetus, while growing inside the womb. Produced in conjunction with and endorsed by human development experts, this DVD combines facts gleaned from the medical literature with images produced from six different imaging technologies. This visually compelling program is intended for general audiences and communicates an unparalleled visual appreciation of early human development.”

I have to admit at first I was amused when I read the description that this is intended for an audience 12 and older. While not brain surgery, there is a lot of data. And then it dawned on me that I was missing the point.

It isn’t about remembering that “A woman’s reproductive cell is commonly called an ‘egg’ but the correct term is oocyte.” Or that “The zygote’s 46 chromosomes represent the unique first edition of a new individual’s complete genetic blueprint. This master plan resides in tightly coiled molecules called DNA. They contain the instructions for the development of the entire body.” Or even that “The heart begins beating 3 weeks and 1 day following fertilization.”

Rather it’s about, if you will, the mega-narrative: This is not the story of your life or my life but all our lives.

Right out of the box you see a collage of people flashing before your eyes–all ages and races. The point does not need to be articulated: men or women, young or old, Scandinavian or Japanese, all started their existence in the same way and undertook the same journey.

In a DVD that is ingenious at so many levels, what jumped out at me is the very helpful way the producers intersect and compare images and representations.

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For example, in addition to a compelling narrative, all throughout the DVD you see an animation that shows you the size of the baby on the left: from the size of a pea held between the thumb and forefinger to a baby at birth that needs to be held in both arms. Alongside that on the right you see spectacular video of the developing child at that stage.

The description above mentions “six different imaging technologies.” Whichever one is used it gives you a bird’s eye look at the baby as she or he develops.

I’m sure I must have known that during the first trimester developmental period “all body systems and more than 90 percent of body parts emerge and begin to function.” But I had forgotten important markers of fetal development.

The video is so beautiful, so awesome, it almost takes your breath away.

“The Biology of Prenatal Development” just tells it the way it is, a story that not so long ago was impossible to convey.

We all know technology can cut both ways, but in this instance it is an enormous boost to the cause of unborn babies.