Scientific findings have the potential to change the way abortion is viewed
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Roe v. Wade was a landmark decision. Judges ruled that the Constitution granted women a right to privacy and an ability to control what happens within their own body -- including aborting a pregnancy. In short, Roe treated mother and baby as one individual, not two. Considering that the science of embryology was in its nascent stages in 1973, it is possible to grant the judges some consideration.

In the 46 years since Roe was decided, modern science has revealed that mother and baby are, in fact, two separate persons -- long before the baby is born.

Within five weeks of gestation, an umbilical cord grows and connects the baby to the placenta. At the placenta, a complex interweave of blood vessels allow nutrients from the mother to cross a membrane and feed the growing child. The baby and mother’s bloods are not supposed to mix.

In the case of trauma, mother and baby’s blood sometimes do mix. This creates a very serious medical situation for some mothers and their unborn child. In the mixed blood, some mother’s antibodies attack the baby’s blood. In other words, the mother’s immune system sees the baby’s blood as a foreign intruder.

As you can see, even our own chemistries show us that mother and baby are distinct. It makes sense. While the mother and baby have many similarities, half the DNA comes from the father. The baby is a whole new creation.

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Thirty years after Roe, a jury in a murder trial got it right.

In 2003, Laci Peterson was found killed in the San Francisco Bay area. She was eight months pregnant with her unborn son, Conner. During the ensuing murder trial, husband Scott was tried and convicted. Here is what’s interesting: Scott was convicted of first-degree murder for Laci’s death and second-degree murder for Conner’s death.

Convicting Scott Peterson of a double homicide is inconsistent with Roe, but it is consistent with common sense and medical science.

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Some abortion activists explain their position – they say a fetus does not become a person until it is a viable life on his/her own. Since the fetus requires nutrients and oxygen passed from mom to the baby through the placenta, it is not yet viable.

But consider an infant two weeks postpartum. The newborn requires the nutrients from the mother’s breast. Without them, the child perishes. The newborn is still dependent on the mother, just like he/she was before birth receiving nutrients from the placenta. No one in their right mind would discard a two-week-old nursing baby.

There are other issues with drawing the line at viability. Babies born as early as 20 weeks gestational age have gone on to be healthy, normal children. But it is perfectly legal to have an on-demand abortion until 26 weeks gestational age.

Where do I, a medical professional, draw the line? I believe a child becomes a child at conception, when a DNA is formed. It is at that moment that the right to life is conferred and we must protect its life.

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I do have hope that public opinion on abortion will change soon. New research, new imaging, new knowledge about conception and life are rocking the world of medical science every day. We can now see 3D images of babies in the womb. They’re hiccupping, sucking their thumbs, listening to voices, feeling and developing nerves. A new poll this week show two-thirds of Americans want the Supreme Court to revisit Roe in a substantial way.

Until that day, we have several things we can do to spread our pro-life message.

First, we can participate in large demonstrations designed to capture the public’s attention. This year, the March for Life is celebrating its 46th anniversary on Friday, Jan. 18. The March is an annual march from the National Mall to the steps of the Supreme Court. Hundreds of thousands of Americans join in Washington and across the nation. I encourage all pro-life Americans to participate.

Second, pro-life taxpayers should not be forced by our government to fund the abortion industry. Pro-lifers need to be made aware their money is going towards abortions, and they need to respond by demanding action from Congress. Cries to “defund Planned Parenthood” have slowly dissipated. That drumbeat needs to be resurrected.

Third, we can find common ground with Democrats and agree that we should end abortions when unborn babies begin to feel pain – at 20 weeks. The U.S. is only 1 in 7 countries worldwide that allow abortions after 20 weeks. Democrats must join with Republicans and support the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. After all, Marist Poll Survey shows 75 percent Americans want new limits on abortion.

Fourth and finally, we must protect pro-life doctors and nurses from being required to perform abortions by passing the Hyde Amendment. These medical professionals have a right to a conscience just like the rest of us.

Green represents Tennessee’s 7th District. He is a physician.