Planned Parenthood’s “Baby-Free” Fetology

By Randall K. O’Bannon, NRL Director of Education & Research

Editor’s note. This first ran in 2015. Two numerical figures have been updated. In addition, while ”baby” and “babies” now show up in a couple of times in new paragraphs/sections PPFA has added dealing with the Zika virus, the thrust of the analysis is unchanged.

Unbornbaby76Imagine a full nine and half months of pregnancy – without a mom or a baby. Impossible, you say? Well, not if you’re Planned Parenthood.

It doesn’t pop up right away as soon as you hit the website, but look a while and you’ll find Planned Parenthood’s section on “Pregnancy.” But then you will look far and wide for the words “mother” or “baby.”

Why, it’s almost like they don’t even exist.

You won’t find “mother” or “baby” in the section on “Considering Pregnancy” or “Pre-Pregnancy Health.”

Nothing in “How Pregnancy Happens.” There is no mention of the “baby” a potential “mother” would be looking for in the entire section on “Pregnancy Test.”

By contrast, “Abortion” is mentioned seven times in the opening section on “Pregnancy Options” but not “baby, “mom” or “motherhood.”

“Baby” does show up two times, in a single paragraph of a 2,100-word-long description of “Prenatal Care,” which is supposed to be all about making sure a mother [whoops! There’s that word again] provides a healthy environment for her developing child. But that’s about it.

“Miscarriage” and “Ectopic Pregnancy” are written without any mention of a “mother” losing a “baby,” and the section on “Infertility” proceeds without reference to the “baby” or “child” whose absence is what defines the condition!

Pregnancy without a baby

Take a look at the section “Pregnancy Week by Week.” No mention of “mother” or “mom” there either, despite the fact that that is precisely what the process of pregnancy is about. Sure, they’ll mention “woman” or “women” 37 times (which, even for Planned Parenthood) would seem to be a prerequisite, but you can obviously be a woman without being a mom.

“Baby” gets short shrift too. You won’t find it anywhere, not mentioned once in any of the week by week descriptions. That would seem hard to do, but they pull it off.

Okay, they mention “embryo” ten times and “fetus” 36 times, but these are simply stages of a baby’s life up until birth, right?

You’d think they could say the “B” word after birth, but you’d be mistaken. We do get three mentions of the “newborn,” a slightly more humanizing term allowable after birth, but that’s about the best Planned Parenthood can manage.

It is hard to pick up any of the celebratory tone that accompanies so many pregnancies in the “week by week” narrative. You get long descriptions of the risks and burdens of pregnancy, but not a lot of wonder.

Oh, you’ll read of fatigue, nausea, deal with bloating, frequent urination, mood swings, tender or swollen breasts, weight gain, etc. that many moms feel early in their pregnancies. Absent is all of the wonder, the excitement, the anticipation and the joy that are equally real and in the end, so much more memorable for many moms.

You do get some details about fetal development, details that are sorely lacking in their descriptions of abortions performed at the exact same stages.

Of course, everything is complicated by the fact that, according to Planned Parenthood, pregnancy doesn’t actually begin until the third or fourth week of pregnancy. Yes, you read that correctly.

Though the pregnancy is dated from the first day of a woman’s last menstrual period (LMP), the actual pregnancy itself does not begin– Planned Parenthood says–until the “fertilized egg” implants in the uterus some time about 6 to 10 days after fertilization.

Confusing fetology

While it is true that the tradition of dating by the LMP method goes a long way back to the time before there was any way to actually scientifically determine fetal age, it is clear that Planned Parenthood is relying on this ambiguity to sow some confusion about the development of the unborn child, scant enough as the information they provide already is.

So, when “egg meets sperm,” somewhere late in weeks 1-2, “they combine to form…” well, not a new, unique, exciting individual human being with a world of potential, but simply “…one cell.” That’s “fertilization” for you.

Then, in weeks 3-4, the “fertilized egg” travels down the fallopian tube and “divides into more and more cells” that head for the uterus and “form a ball” and finally attach to the uterine wall after floating free for a few days.

Well, sort of.

From the moment of conception, the DNA of that single first cell is already packed with full instructions about the new individual’s sex, eye color, shoe size, brain capacity and other physical traits. Multiplying and dividing rapidly, within just a matter of days, the cells of this tiny new human begin separating into those that will form the child’s body and organ systems and those that will form the placenta.

The way Planned Parenthood tells it, “the ball of cells” develops into an embryo at the start of the sixth week and “all major internal organs begin developing” over the next five weeks or so. They grant that, at weeks 5-6, “a very basic beating heart and circulatory system develop” and that “buds for arms and legs develop.” (Remember, no mention of “baby.”)

However when considered from the baby’s perspective, the heart begins its first halting beats as early as 18 days after conception, before many moms even realize that they are pregnant.

Planned Parenthood admits that the neural tube begins forming around this time, which “will later form the brain, spinal cord, and major nerves.” These are the same brains and spinal cords you can hear them talk about removing and delivering to fetal tissue procurement firms in the Planned Parenthood videos shot by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP).

Our fetology brochure, A Baby’s First Months, points out that an unborn baby’s fingers are forming at six weeks and that his or her mouth and lips are apparent. Using the gestational dating method and counting from LMP, Planned Parenthood makes it sound like these don’t occur until weeks 7-8.

Developed babies Planned Parenthood still aborts

The latest figures show Planned Parenthood performing around 324,000 abortions a year, close to a third of all abortions performed annually in the United States.

Planned Parenthood clinics, we know both from the videos and from clinic information on their website, perform abortions up through the end of the second trimester, when the pregnancy section of the site says hair begins to grow, the roof of the mouth is formed, and sexual anatomy can be detected on an ultrasound (weeks 13-14 LMP, according to Planned Parenthood).

Details on newer features after 14 weeks LMP are meager in Planned Parenthood’s description. By this time every basic organ system is already in place and functioning (see NRL’s Baby’s First Months, 10-11 weeks).

Though Planned Parenthood’s accompanying illustrations for earlier months appear to be almost deliberately indistinct and amorphous, the humanity of the child is obvious even in their drawings for later weeks.

They don’t mention in this section that they abort babies of just this age and development. But then again, they don’t share any of these details on fetal development, limited though they be, in their sections on abortion.

No “Baby” to Abort?

It isn’t just that there is no mention of the baby by name in the abortion procedures, but that it’s not even clear, from their descriptions, exactly what the “it” is that is removed during the abortion.

In its “In-Clinic Abortion Procedures” section describing surgical procedures, the steps of an “Aspiration Abortion” dealing with the moment of abortion are as follows:

● A tube is inserted through the cervix into the uterus.

● Either a hand-held suction device or a suction machine gently empties your uterus.

● Sometimes, an instrument called a curette is used to remove any remaining tissue that lines the uterus. It may also be used to check that the uterus is empty.

The most you can figure from this description is that the procedure is removing “tissue” from the uterus. That’s the same “tissue” that the earlier description from the pregnancy section described as having a heartbeat, brain, and budding arms and legs.

The description for the “Dilation and Evacuation” procedure used in later gestations is only slightly more informative. After describing in detail the drugs or laminaria that may be used to dilate the cervix, the website says that

● In later second-trimester procedures, you may also need a shot through your abdomen to make sure that the fetus’s heart stops before the procedure begins.

This is about as much detail as Planned Parenthood gives, nothing more about the advanced development of the child at this age. After noting that the abortionist will inject a numbing medication into the cervix, Planned Parenthood casually notes that

● Medical instruments and a suction machine gently empty your uterus.

If you thought the descriptions of chemical abortions were any more illuminating, you’re out of luck. Of course, there’s no mention of “baby” or “mom” or “mother” there, and even only a passing reference to “fetus” (“danger” to the “health of your fetus” as a reason to abort).

But as to what actually happens during the abortion, the most Planned Parenthood will say is that “You may see large blood clots or tissue at the time of the abortion.”

No talk, as some women who have had such abortions report, of seeing “tiny fists,” “dark spots like eyes,” “a little skeleton not quite formed,” of babies laying in the toilet bowl or swirling in the shower drain. Just “blood clots” and “tissue.”

“Baby” bad for business

It’s almost as if Planned Parenthood was allergic to the words “mom” and “baby.” But not surprising.

Planned Parenthood has built its abortion empire by denying the humanity of the unborn child and devaluing the idea of motherhood. The last thing you want to do if you’re selling someone an abortion is to have them consider the baby in their belly or think of themselves as a mother.

If they seek information about pregnancy, you keep it as bland and impersonal as possible, making sure to play up all the uncomfortable aspects. But make abortion sound clinical and easy.

Try to avoid saying anything that would allow a woman to conjure up an image in her mind of the miraculous marvel growing within her or to think ahead to the day when she is holding that child in her arms lovingly looking up at her face.

Nothing that might possibly facilitate a mother bonding with her unborn baby.

No, no, that wouldn’t do.