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I READ with a heavy heart the news article “With law overturned in the US, what’s the legal status of abortion in Malaysia?” on July 7.

Although the stands of various religious bodies were presented, the rationale behind such stands was glaringly absent. Viewing this as one of the most important issues in life, I am compelled to respond.

The matter of abortion hinges on one fundamental question: Is the preborn a human being?

More than 150 years ago, a Boston physician named Horatio R. Storer pointed to the heart of the issue. “The whole question,” he observed, “turns on… the real nature of the foetus in utero.”

The preborn (the human zygote, embryo or foetus) is a human being – a living human organism at the earliest developmental stages. This is a fact established by the science of embryology.

There are four important features of the preborn:

1. Distinct. The preborn has a DNA and body distinct from her mother and father. She develops her own arms, legs, brain, nervous system, heart and so on.

2. Living. The preborn meets the biological criteria for life. She grows by reproducing cells. She turns nutrients into energy through metabolism. And she can respond to stimuli.

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3. Human. The preborn has a human genetic signature. She is the offspring of human parents, and humans can only beget other humans.

4. Organism. The preborn is an organism (rather than a mere organ or tissue) – an individual whose parts work together for the good of the whole. Guided by a complete genetic code, she needs only the proper environment and nutrition to develop herself through the different stages of life as a member of our species.

Put simply, the preborn is a unique, whole living human being that has never existed before and will never exist again.

To quote Dr Jérôme Lejeune, the Father of Modern Genetics, “To accept the fact that after fertilisation has taken place, a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion… it is plain experimental evidence. Each individual has a very neat beginning, at conception.”

We may have lacked the technology during the 1970s when Roe v Wade was ruled in favour of Jane Roe.

However, with ultrasound technology and heavy research now, the scientific community can provide us with a clear understanding of what (or who) is in the womb.

For some, the knowledge of the prenatal development of a human and sometimes simply by seeing the preborn with the help of advanced ultrasound technology is all it takes to change their mind about the morality of abortion.

In rare and tragic cases, saving a pregnant woman’s life requires delivering the child (such as through premature delivery or C-section) – even though the child may not be able to survive outside the womb.

It is not the same as intentionally killing the child, which is never medically necessary.

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