Rights and Realities of the Unborn Child
This section provides the latest research on mental and physical characteristics and legal rights of children prior to birth.
Recent Research/Reports
Unborn Children and the Law
Slide Presentations
Rights and Realities of the Unborn Child Links
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Last Update:  August 30, 2016 


An Open Letter from Physicians to all Americans
This is a letter signed by over 60 doctors and medical professionals which expresses grave concern over the actions of Planned Parenthood
in selling fetal tissue, calling it " the most barbaric form of human trafficking."  There is an option on the site for those doctors and medical
professionals to add their names to the list. 

Recent Research/Reports

  After IVF, Some Struggle With What To Do With Leftover Embryos
Juli Fragam,  NPR
August 20, 2016
This story highlights the issue of what to do with the approximately one million embryos who are left frozen as a result of the in vitro fertilization process.
  How is the developing fetus vulnerable to toxic chemical exposures, and how can our regulatory
system more effectively protect our health in the prenatal period?

Posted by Molly Rauch, MPH,
February, 2012, Physicians for Social Responsibility website


Study on Premature Babies Raises Questions About Abortion and Medical Care
Sarah Kaplan,
The Washington Post, May 7, 2015

This article provides an overview of the consequences for unborn children and their mothers as a result of recent developments
pushing back the time when a child can survive outside the womb (called viability).  The old standard was approximately 24
weeks and is now closer to 22 weeks, creating questions for neonatal intensive care units and abortion law.  The United States
Supreme Court currently permits states to ban abortions after viability. 

  Language Experienced in utero Affects Vowel Perception After Birth: a Two-Country Study
Christine Moon1,Hugo Lagercrantz, Patricia K Kuhl
Acta Paediatrica
Vol 102
Issue 2( Feb 2013
In a study of 40 American and 40 Swedish infants, the authors concluded that infants begin learning language while still in the womb;

Medical Intervention Should Not Define Legal Parenthood,”
Dr. Reuven Brandt,
BioNews 801

Using a discussion of a recent case involving artificial insemination (involving a turkey baster), this commentary
exposes some of the problems created when it is unclear which individuals ought to have recognized rights and
responsibilities for children created outside of a family relationship.


  Scientists Discover Children’s Cells Living in Mothers’ Brains The connection between mother and child is ever deeper
than thought

Robert Martone
Scientific American, December 4, 2012
New research has discovered the presence of the cells of unborn children in the brains of their mothers, decades after the
child emerged from the womb.  As the article states, "The profound psychological and physical bonds shared by the mother
and her child begin during gestation when the mother is everything for the developing fetus, supplying warmth and sustenance,
while her heartbeat provides a soothing constant rhythm."

  Excessive Stress Disrupts the Architecture of the Developing Brain
Working Paper 3, Updated Edition.
National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. (2005/2014).  
This working paper describes how healthy develop­ment of a child’s brain can be derailed by “toxic stress” in the body and
the brain during fetal development as well as early childhood, with damaging effects on learning, behavior, and health across
the lifespan. This includes significant maternal stress during pregnancy and poor maternal care during infancy.
  Language Experienced in utero Affects Vowel Perception After Birth: a Two-Country Study
Christine Moon1,Hugo Lagercrantz, Patricia K Kuhl
Acta Paediatrica Vol 102
Issue 2 (Feb 2013)
In a study of 40 American and 40 Swedish infants, the authors concluded that infants begin learning language while still in the womb.

  Scientists Have Discovered That The Cells of Unborn Children Live On in the Bodies of Their Mothers
September 28, 2012
A National Institute of Health study has discovered that cells may migrate through the placenta between the mother and the fetus, taking up
residence in many organs of the body including the lung, thyroid muscle, liver, heart, kidney and skin. These may have a broad range of impacts,
from tissue repair and cancer prevention to sparking immune disorders.
  Noninvasive Whole-Genome Sequencing of a Human Fetus
Jacob O. Kitzma1, Matthew W. Snyder, Mario Venturam et al
Sci. Transl. Med. 4, 137ra76 (2012).
Study reviews a new method of prenatal genetic diagnosis.
  Fetal and maternal analgesia/anesthesia for fetal procedures.
Van de Velde M, De Buck F.
Fetal Diagn Ther. 2012;31(4):201-9.
  Stricter Thinking on Alcohol During Pregnancy
Melinda Beck
The Wall Street Journal, January 24, 2012
Article discusses the vulnerability of unborn children who are 6-12 weeks old to alcohol consumption by their mothers.
Some of the problems cited are fetal abnormalities, stunted growth and neurological problems.
  The Timing and Quality of Early Experiences Combine to Shape Brain Architecture: Working Paper #5.
National Scientific Council on the Developing Child
February 2008
Study describes how environmental conditions and personal experience, beginning before birth, impacts child’s development.


Unborn Children and the Law
  An ABC News story on the prosecution of women for fetal abuse
une 25, 2012


  The Legal Status of the Unborn Child Under State Law
Paul Benjamin Linton
February 2012
This article  examines how, through statutes, court rules and judicial decisions, States have recognized unborn children as persons
who may be protected from criminal and
tortious acts, whose lives must be taken into consideration in making health care decisions
under advance directives, who may inherit or otherwise acquire property and for whom guardians or guardians ad litem may be
appointed to defend their interests.

Slide Presentations
  A Child is Born: Photographs of the foetus developing in the womb
Lennart Nilsson


  Choosing Thomas: Inside a family's decision to let their son live, if only for a brief time


 Documents identified with this icon are in Portable Document Format (PDF) and require the Adobe Acrobat Reader

The Human Family Research Center
Rights and Realities of the Unborn Child