Planned Parenthood’s Fetal Development Info Lacks Major Facts

Opinion   |   Jennie Stone   |   Sep 29, 2011   |   12:24PM   |   Washington, DC

The following excerpts are from the Q&A section of Planned Parenthood’s website about fetal development, called “Pregnancy Week by Week.”  It conveniently neglects some big milestones during prenatal life.  If a pregnant girl were to look for facts about her unborn baby’s development on Planned Parenthood’s page, she would receive only a small fraction of the information she desires.

Planned Parenthood describes gestational age by LMP (last menstrual period); certain milestones appear as though they occur later after conception than they actually do.  For example, when Planned Parenthood says “Weeks 5-6,” this simply defines when the woman’s last menstruation was, and her unborn baby is actually only 3-4 weeks old:

“The ball of cells develops into an embryo at the start of the sixth week. The embryonic stage of pregnancy will last about five weeks. During this time all major internal organs begin developing.

Weeks 5–6

  • The embryo is less than 1/5 inch (4–5 mm) long.
  • A very basic beating heart and circulatory system develop.
  • Buds for arms and legs develop.
  • The neural tube begins forming. The neural tube will later form the brain, spinal cord, and major nerves.
  • The bud of a tail develops.
  • The umbilical cord begins developing.”

That “ball of cells” is scientifically and biologically a newly conceived human being, but don’t expect Planned Parenthood to ever admit such a thing.  The “very basic beating heart,” which isn’t basic in any sense of the word, is pumping blood throughout the baby’s body just 21 days after conception—before the vast majority of women even realize they’re pregnant.  By 28 days after conception, an unborn child’s heart is beating about 121 beats per minute.

Planned Parenthood claims that “the neural tube will later form the brain,” at 5-6 weeks of pregnancy when, in fact, the brain is the first organ to begin developing.  By 3 weeks after conception, the forebrain, midbrain, and hindbrain can be identified.

“Weeks 7–8

  • The embryo is 1/4 to 1/2 inch (7–14 mm) long.
  • The heart has formed.
  • Webbed fingers and toes develop.
  • The arms bend at elbows.
  • External ears, eyes, eyelids, liver, and upper lip have begun forming.
  • The sex organs are the same — neither female nor male — in all embryos until the seventh or eighth week. If a gene triggers the development of testes, the embryo develops as a male. If there is no trigger, the embryo develops ovaries and becomes female.”

It’s interesting that Planned Parenthood’s website states that an unborn child’s heart has formed 7-8 weeks into pregnancy when their medical staff claims that there is “nothing there” at this age.  Other staff members claim that the baby’s heart doesn’t begin to beat until 17-18 weeks into pregnancy.  Fact is, both Planned Parenthood’s website and workers mislead on the development of the unborn, especially on their heart development.

This timeline conveniently neglects to mention the fact that an unborn baby’s brainwave activity can be recorded as early as 6 weeks, 2 days after conception via EEG, and by 7 weeks, he or she demonstrates reflexive movements if touched.

“Weeks 9–10

  • The embryo develops into a fetus after 10 weeks. It is 1–1.5 inches (21–40 mm) long.
  • The tail disappears.
  • Fingers and toes are longer.
  • The umbilical cord connects the abdomen of the fetus to the placenta.  The placenta is attached to the wall of the uterus. It absorbs nutrients from the woman’s bloodstream. The cord carries nutrients and oxygen to the fetus and takes wastes away from the fetus.”

Around 8-10 weeks after conception, the preborn child has a very complex brain, practice his/her breathing motions, can grasp an object placed in the hand and respond to light touch, and begin thumb-sucking, and many demonstrate left- or right- hand dominance.

Why aren’t these fascinating details on Planned Parenthood’s fetal growth timeline?  Where are the videos of unborn children in the womb on Planned Parenthood’s fetal development section?  Where are the photographs?  There are absolutely no detailed descriptions or images of preborn babies on Planned Parenthood’s website.  If a pregnant girl were to look for facts about her unborn baby’s development on Planned Parenthood’s page, she would receive only a small fraction of the information and facts that she needs and deserves to know. Note: Jenni Stone writes for the Live Action blog and this column is reprinted with permission.