Letters to the Editor

Leave the science to scientists

Thursday, April 04, 2019

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Dear Editor,

I was flabbergasted to hear a proclamation from a unified body of church officials on March 28 on a news report, proposing scientific reasons to legitimise an abortion at or below 12 weeks gestational age. They asserted that at 12 weeks the “baby” is not a life, and although it is formed and has all the organs, none of the organs are functioning. I would like to state categorically and emphatically that these assertions are factually incorrect or in the modern vernacular “fake news”.

Fact #1: Functioning placenta at 12 weeks gestation

To start, the placenta, which is one of the most magnificent and diverse functioning organ system, functions to facilitate the exchange of nutrients, waste products and hormones between mother and foetus. The science states that by eight to 10 weeks gestational age, there is engagement of the luteal-placental shift and the placenta by 12 weeks gestational age is performing its core function of micro-transport of nutrients, waste products and hormones between foetus and mother.

Fact #2: Functioning cardio-vascular system at 12 weeks gestation

Secondly, the first embryonic cardiac impulse occurs at 35 days from the first day of the last menstrual period, in other words, at six weeks gestational age. At 12 weeks gestational age, the heart with its four chambers along the great vessels is actively pumping blood through the vascular tree to all the tissues.

​Fact #3,4 and 5:Functioning nervous, muscular and skeletal systems at 12 weeks gestational age

At 12 weeks gestational age, the foetus is capable of moving all its limbs and trunk. For this to occur, there must be an intact and functioning central and peripheral nervous system as well as muscular and skeletal systems.

Fact #6: Functioning uro-genital system at 12 weeks gestation

Although primordial in anatomical features, the primitive kidneys are engaged in function, and are contributing to the pool of amniotic fluids that bathes the foetus at 12 weeks gestational age.

As an obstetrician who has done multiple-of-thousands of ultrasounds for pregnant clients, the foetus in whom I have diagnosed “not alive”​ (or with no life), are those which fail to show cardiac activity or movements in a specified time frame. The foetuses at 12 weeks gestational age and below that I have examined sonographically and have diagnosed as being ​ alive, exhibit some of the same characteristics that are common to ​ life​ in the extra-uterine (outside) world.

The above scientific facts debunk the assertions made by the clerics, and if the paradigm shift is for Jamaica to abort ​section 72 of the Offences Against the Person Act, then let it be done based on facts, and not “fake news”.

I believe the clerics should 'run in their lane'. They should use all available biblical evidence to support their stance on abortion, and leave the scientific proclamations to the scientists.

Dr Trevor Potter


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