What does a 12 week fetus really look like?

[Yesterday’s blogpost, “What Is It?“, generated intense pushback when it was first published at Quiner’s Diner three years ago. Reread the post. Here is the exchange]:

J. GREENBERG:  Your story about the children who identify the model of the fetus is not valid evidence of fetuses being human beings. Children do not understand the stages of a pregnancy, and any attempt to say they do is ridiculous.

At that point in their lives, they cannot fully understand that there is a difference between a fetus and a baby. Thus, them saying that the model fetus (which is has little resemblance to an actual fetus that would be able to be aborted) is not proving your point, it’s showing that children don’t know the stages of pregnancy.

Finally, why do you get to decide if a woman wants to keep her fetus or not? Would you say to a woman who got pregnant as a result of rape, that she has to not only carry that being to a full term, but then raise it as a 24/7 reminder of the horrible act done to her? Or, what if the mother cannot support a child, be it due to financial status or physical ability, is it not her choice to decide that she cannot support this being in a way that will result in it having a healthy and loving childhood?

If that is what you are saying, then you are condemning that being to at a minimum, a childhood of pain, misery, and quite possibly a future in which they find themselves behind both economically and socially. I ask you, is all that worth not aborting something which cannot feel, cannot think, and will not do so for another couple of months.


GREENBERG: I asked quite a few questions, so could you be a little bit more specific?

QUINER:  I responded to your last question. Yes, it is worth it because humanity begins at the instant of conception.

Some 98% of human abortion occurs with healthy women who carry a healthy baby. It is immoral to kill a person simply because she is inconvenient. It is arrogant to proclaim that someone born into less than perfect conditions has no 14th Amendment rights, an assumption refuted on a daily basis by incredible people who survive and thrive one obstacle after another hurled at them by life.

And regarding rape, studies reveal that women who give birth to the child of their rapist have fewer regrets than women who aborted the product of a rape. They discovered that more violence isn’t the answer; that death isn’t the answer. Pro abortion laws are proven to be anti woman time after time. Every single human being is distinct and complete at the instant of conception.

GREENBERG:  I find it hard to believe that women would want reminders of a rape, but seeing as neither you nor I is a woman as far as I know, we cannot be the ones to decide for them.

It should not be up to men to decide what a woman wants to do. If they want to get an abortion, then that is their choice. If they want to have the baby, that is also their choice. If the woman is not ready to take care of a child, like in cases of teen pregnancy, they should not be thrown into a world of suffering and poverty because a politician decided she would have to have the baby.

The average cost of raising a child today is $245,340. That is something that many people cannot afford, and it will continue to create more poverty in this nation. And yes, I do know adoption is a thing. However, there are instances where that simply isn’t an option.

QUINER:  Your instincts are as wrong as they are irrelevant. Researchers tested your thesis in a survey of rape victims. Their results are recounted in a book: Victims and Victors: Speaking Out About Their Pregnancies, Abortions, and Children Resulting from Sexual Assault.” The scientists refute your premise with this synopsis:

“Many of the women in our sample aborted only because they were pressured to do so, and most reported that the abortion only increased their experience of grief and trauma. In contrast, none of the women who carried to term said they wished they had not given birth or that they had chosen abortion instead. Many of these women said that their children had brought peace and healing to their lives.”

To your second question, it should not be up to men OR women to make a life or death decision over any child (your word) whether born or pre-born. Your position is shockingly heartless to suggest that a person should be exterminated because the parents don’t want to shell out the money to take responsibility for the child they conceived in an act of premeditated sex. Your position is just too heartless for me, especially when there are 36 couples waiting to adopt EVERY child placed for adoption.

GREENBERG:  You seem to not understand that you will always be able to find evidence on any argument, and that because you read something doesn’t make it correct. If I wanted to, I could just as easily find a study that shows the opposite of what you claim.

Secondly, how do you fail to see the irony in so vigorously defending a life, even one that is considered by many to not be, and also be pro gun. Guns kill far more people every year, and despite that, if someone says we need tighter gun laws people go up in arms about it. Explain how that is logical.

And, I find it funny that you instantly go to personal insults when your beliefs are challenged. I could have gone there, but I didn’t because I have a little bit of class. I look forward to your repetitive and most likely factually incorrect response.

QUINER:  The gun issue is a separate issue with no relevance to this argument. I used the word ‘heartless’ intentionally because I cannot think of anything more heartless than killing an innocent human life because she is inconvenient. If I have mischaracterized your position, please advise. Thanks for writing.

GREENBERG:  You have in fact mischaracterized my position. You are completely overlooking the cases where it is vital to the health of the mother that she not have this baby. Saying that someone would get an abortion because the fetus is “inconvenient” is a ridiculous assumption, but not all to surprising.

Next, the gun issue is actually relevant. Obviously I need to explain further. Guns kill people, yet you think that people should have them. But when it’s an abortion, it’s an abomination and a crime against humanity. That is how they are related.

QUINER: I oppose the killing of a human being with a gun just as much as I oppose the killing of a human being in the womb with forceps or a spinal needle.

MARIA:  THANK YOU FOR THIS. Couldn’t agree more, any sane human being in their right mind would agree with you.

QUINER:  Thank-you.

PROLIFEMAMA: Please forgive me if another commenter has asked this question. Is this particular fetal model available for purchase by pro-life presenters like me?

QUINER:  Yes. Contact Iowans for Life: http://www.IowansForLife.org. Good luck!

LORI: I honestly believe that this will not be solved in the political arena. I pray it will but I have doubts. However, I can’t vote for a “death party”…ever. In fact, the democratic platform is so immoral that we can’t read what they stand for to our kids (Until they are older). We have major issues with the republican candidate, but not the platform.

I have photos of my children at young ages, via ultrasound. I treasured them then as I do now. I didn’t even have the fancy 3D ultrasound but I could see what I knew- they were babies. In fact, when choosing godparents for our twins, I sent ultrasound photo invitations to the prospective godparents. After the birth, when visiting one of the families, I saw the invitation on the shelf. I said sheepishly, “Oh, I sent you the wrong photo.” After birth it was obvious I had sent her the ultrasound photo of the baby that was not her godchild. There was no confusing him for an alien.

QUINER:  A dramatic point: the Democratic Platform is R rated. Thanks for writing, Lori.

JOHN ROZYCKI:  Thank you for your good work, Tom. I and so many others appreciate it. May God bless you.

QUINER:  Thank-you, sir!

CLARE FLOURISH: It appears that the Netherlands maintains an extremely low abortion rate through sex education and widely available family planning services.

Do you support this, as a way of reducing abortion rates?


FLOURISH:  Why not? Don’t you think they reduce abortion?

QUINER:  No, contraception increases the likelihood of human abortion, according to survey data. When it fails, as it often does, the baby is typically unwanted and thus aborted.

SWANDRH:  Some girls use abortion for birth control. They get the abortion for free, it’s no limit to how many they get in one year.

QUINER:  So sad, so tragic.

VIOLET WISP:  That’s not reality, that’s entirely misleading. You can see genuine images of a 12 week old fetus online. If you’re going to do this kind of thing, you should do it with honesty. I think the reality might still make your same point, but the fetus looks more like a newly hatched baby bird or a tiny alien. Have a look and tell me if you truly think that’s an honest thing to do – that model is a complete lie, and you should be ashamed.

QUINER: Me thinks you dost protest too much.

PAUL SHARP:  A baby bird? A tiny alien? What absurd comparisons!

12 week fetus

Fetal model

WISP: I take pregnancy and abortion seriously Tom. It’s not a game where we twist reality to suit our agenda. Please post a picture of an actual fetus for comparison. Your model is a lie.

LEE BURLESON:  Tom, I kindly submit that you exchange “actual” for “model” in the picture caption.

QUINER:  Seems reasonable.

BURLESON: I did a search as you suggested; it is true that the model is

12 week fetus

Actual 12 week fetus

more opaque and has more detail than a real human fetus. The pictures from Snopes (considered neutral) and LiveAction are similar to each other. To me, 12 weeks still “looks” human. But this only begs the question: what are using to define “human”? Looks? Many of these discussions circle back to that question, which then leads to questions of personhood. I am including the links here, but even before 12 weeks the growing organism is only human.

Most of us here know the usual scientific arguments, so let’s short-circuit these misdirections about humanity, shall we?

What is the heart of the issue?

Name it.

WISP: Thanks for the links. My point is that the model being used above is misleading. It is simply a miniature fully formed baby, which is no a reflection of what a 12 week fetus looks like, as in your links. And as I say in my original comment, a real model fetus may still give someone pause for thought, so why exaggerate? Why lie? People should make decisions about their own lives based on facts.

What is the heart of the issue? The heart of the issue is that in every country in the world where women cannot choose to have a safe and legal pregnancy termination, they access any resource they can, including butchering their own bodies, to end unwanted pregnancies.

The heart of the issue is that a fetus has no awareness or sense of pain, and is entirely dependent on the host body of their mother for existence. They are also born yearning for that mother’s touch and love, having heard, smelt and felt their presence at key developmental times (which are beyond normal abortion limits).

I don’t think anyone wins when humans attempt to force women to give birth to babies they don’t want – women harm the babies and themselves with stress chemicals, with alcohol, with drugs, and with home-made, desperate abortion tactics. How would you combat that if abortion was illegal?

BURLESON:I agree that deception on either side of the debate is wrong.

I also agree that women and men can become desperate when faced with an unplanned/unwanted pregnancy.

When considering the morality of an action, it is useful to ask who is affected. In this case, we both agree it is another human being (regardless of looks). In the U.S. we have well-established laws that prohibit direct intentional harm of others … except for abortion. Until the unborn are recognized as human persons, the foundational laws will remain unchanged.

While it is true that certain people will always seek out illegal abortions, I don’t see the problem as woman against child. I see a very difficult, sometimes tragic situation that shouldn’t be made worse by killing the innocent 3rd party.

For this reason, it is incredibly important that we continue to change hearts and assist families no matter what happens legally. The prolife movement -as a whole- does that.

ANONYMOUS:  Well said.