When I first started working as a police officer, DNA evidence was extremely rare. Criminalists, when processing crime scenes, relied far more on fingerprints to identify suspects than they did DNA. Over the years, forensic criminalists improved their ability to collect and process DNA evidence. Today, DNA evidence is commonplace. If I’ve got a piece of evidence at the scene of a crime and I’m curious about who (or what) caused the evidence to enter the scene, DNA and fingerprint information can help me answer the question. Was this small plastic box in the crime scene a part of the crime? Did the suspect bring it into the location? Did it belong to the victim? Did the victim’s dog carry it into the room? Dust it for fingerprints and swab it for DNA; if a human being touched it, we’ll know soon enough. When we’re done, we’ll even know which human touched it. That’s the value of DNA and fingerprint evidence relative to the nature and identity of a suspect.
If you’re wondering what’s in the womb during a pregnancy, these same forensic tools can help you answer the question. The nature and identity of the fetus can be determined in the same way we identify suspects:
The moment an egg is fertilized, the resulting fetus has a unique DNA, distinct from the mother and father. This DNA will not change as the fetus continues to age over the course of its entire life, and the distinct nature of the DNA identifies the fetus as a member of the human species immediately.
Fingerprints begin to develop relatively early in the life of the fetus. Pads (bumps) form on its fingertips and palms within 6 to 13 weeks of conception, and as early as 10 weeks, these pads begin to develop the epidermal ridges destined to become fingerprints. From the very beginning they are unique to the fetus, and by 21 to 24 weeks they will possess their final, mature form.
If you’re investigating the crime scene (known as the womb) and trying to determine the nature and identity of the suspect you find there (known as a fetus), our forensic sciences can provide you with an answer. The fetus is a unique, distinct human being. It’s DNA and fingerprints give it away. The very attributes we associate with human suspects at crime scenes, are also possessed by the human fetus in the womb. He or she has a unique human DNA and develops uniquely human fingerprints very early in his or her maturation process. Fetuses are human beings, with a unique identity, separate from their parents. That’s why it’s so important we stop using vague, un-descriptive terms like “fetus” and start using terms highlighting the humanity of the occupant in the womb. They are fetal humans.
Each of us kills something every day. We set mousetraps, spray ants, swat flies, and pull weeds from our garden. We don’t give these killings much thought because we’re comfortable the thing we’re killing isn’t a human being. We can be certain these things aren’t human because they fail to possess human DNA or fingerprints. This is not the case for the fetal humans killed (the vast majority without proper justification), every day in abortions across America. If we’re going to continue to kill these beings, let’s at least be certain, on the basis of their distinct DNA and fingerprints, about the true nature and identity of what and who it is we are murdering. If the DNA and fingerprint evidence would indicate they’re human at a crime scene, this same evidence demonstrates they’re human in the womb.
J. Warner Wallace is a Dateline featured Cold-Case Detective, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Adj. Professor of Apologetics at Biola University, author of Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, and creator of the Case Makers Academy for kids.
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