I was never told the truth about preborn Life in public school. Not once.
Growing up attending Texas public schools, never once did I learn about fetal development. In fact, the only time preborn Life was ever referenced was when we briefly discussed fertilization in biology and fetal alcohol syndrome in health class. That’s it. I was never taught when Life begins or how a child develops in the womb. I was never shown so much as an illustration or ultrasound of a preborn child.
Think about it. Doesn’t it seem that when human Life begins should be one of the most fundamental foundations of scientific study? Yet, because I was never taught this at school, I had a gaping hole in my understanding of human Life and the truth of what happens at fertilization (conception).
My picture of preborn Life was vague, blurry and entirely devoid of any of the facts about fetal development. Did you know that a zygote (a fertilized egg) meets all the requirements of Life? I didn’t. Or that a baby’s heart starts beating 21 days after fertilization? I didn’t know that either.
My understanding of preborn Life was essentially a blob or grouping of cells. The holes in my education allowed the anti-Life culture to fill in the gaps. Culture told me that preborn babies are not persons and have the same moral worth as any arbitrary cell we spoke about in biology class. Without any of the facts about the earliest stages of human Life I had no reason to dispute these claims.
So when I first heard about abortion, I saw no issue with it. With my incomplete and inaccurate understanding of preborn Life, why would I? Now I know that the primary victim of an abortion is the preborn child, whose life is violently destroyed. But since I had no concept of fetal Life, the primary victim of abortion was literally invisible to me.
I’m not alone either. My entire generation was raised in this anti-Life public school system. With this education it’s no surprise that my generation is left completely lacking any understanding of the most basic facts about human Life.
I couldn’t comprehend why Pro-Lifers were so passionately opposed to abortion. So I decided to do my own research to see if I could understand Pro-Lifers’ reasoning and if there was truly any scientific basis for their conclusions.
I began by researching fetal development. You can imagine my surprise when I read scientifically-accurate descriptions of how a preborn child grows in the womb week-by-week. That’s when I learned that a zygote meets all the requirements for Life, that the heart starts beating around 21 days, that brain waves start at 6 weeks after fertilization, and that a baby’s facial features are already distinctly forming at 7 weeks. I watched videos of preborn children moving and swallowing. I even discovered that babies recognize voices and music they hear in the womb. I was shocked by what I saw. I could not argue with the facts I was finding. Preborn babies showed so much more Life and familiar human characteristics than I had ever realized. They were babies!
Very quickly, it became evident to me that the preborn are living human beings and that abortion ends the life of a person.
I was appalled that I had been taught to accept as good and moral something so clearly wrong and destructive as abortion. Most horrifying of all, I realized that the education system that I was raised in was clearly complicit in the murder of millions of babies by neglecting to teach the basic scientific facts about the violent reality of abortion.
Now as a college student at Texas A&M, I can tell you my peers also suffer from an anti-Life education that was missing any of the facts about preborn babies.
As president of the Pro-Life Aggies, a club that works to defend Life and help mothers on campus, I’ve seen firsthand the result of our anti-Life Texas education system. We hold “tabling” events regularly to engage with the student body about abortion and Life issues. You would be blown away by the number of people who do not know the first fact about fetal development. I’ve seen many students quickly change their opinion on abortion, as I did, after learning the basic science about fetal development that the Texas education system should have taught them.
In the public response to the reversal of Roe v. Wade, we can clearly see that there is an entire generation of young adults who have a blurry, uninformed idea of preborn Life and no concept of the brutal truth about abortion. Society is now suffering the cultural effects of public schools’ failure to correct abortion propaganda with basic scientific truths.
If we want to foster a Life-affirming culture in Texas and across the country, then we must change the public education system.
This past June, the Republican Party of Texas added a party platform plank (Plank 117) urging Texas legislators to require that students be taught the truth about fetal development in a scientifically-accurate and life-affirming manner. The plank reads;
Texas students shall learn about the Humanity of the Preborn Child, including life-affirming definitions of life and the study of life, life begins at fertilization, milestones of fetal development at two-week gestational intervals, use of fetal baby models, witnessing of a live ultrasound, viewing the Miracle of Life type video, and (for high school students) the contents of the Woman’s Right to Know booklet.
These irrefutable facts will not only debunk the left’s false claim that Life does not start at fertilization, but will give the next generation the opportunity to see the humanity and value of a preborn child.
Now that the Supreme Court has returned the abortion question to the states by reversing Roe, it is more important than ever that the public understands the gruesome reality of abortion.
If future generations do not understand the preborn, how are they to know that abortion is wrong?
As we work to save lives from abortion now and build a fully Pro-Life Texas, our state must prioritize reforming the public school system to educate the next generation about the horrors of abortion and the beauty of Life.
Grace Howat is a Fellow and Intern at Texas Right to Life