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Charlotte Lozier Institute

Phone: 202-223-8073
Fax: 571-312-0544

2776 S. Arlington Mill Dr.
Arlington, VA 22206

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Charlotte Lozier Institute

Phone: 202-223-8073
Fax: 571-312-0544

2776 S. Arlington Mill Dr.
Arlington, VA 22206

Life & the LawFetal Development

New Report Highlights 15 Facts Science Reveals About 15-Week-Old Unborn Babies

Outdated Laws and Court Precedents Should Follow the Science, Recognize Rights of ‘Amazingly Complex Human Beings’

Washington, D.C.A new report from the Charlotte Lozier Institute highlights that at 15 weeks’ gestation, an unborn baby’s heart has already beat nearly 16 million times since it first started pumping blood by the 6th week of pregnancy.  Doctors can already tell if the child will be left-handed or right-handed based on which thumb it prefers to suck in utero.  The baby swallows more or less amniotic fluid depending on whether or not she or he likes the taste of what the mother recently ate. The child’s entire body responds to touch and the baby can experience pain.

“If you follow the science, it’s clear that unborn children at 15 weeks’ gestation are already amazingly complex human beings,” noted Katrina Furth, Ph.D., a Charlotte Lozier Institute associate scholar who earned her doctorate in neuroscience at Boston University.  “It is interesting to note that in prenatal surgeries, the fetus is anesthetized separately from the mom to create the best outcomes.  These preborn babies show preferences independent from their mothers and have goal-directed behaviors.  To say these amazing, tiny baby girls and boys don’t deserve the same human rights as you and I is to deny the clear evidence of science.”

So far this month, America has debated a new Texas law which protects life from the first heartbeat.  Next week, a Mississippi abortion clinic will file their brief with the Supreme Court on the merits of overturning Mississippi’s 15-week abortion limit.  To help the public, members of the media, and lawmakers follow the science, the Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) this morning released 15 Facts at 15 Weeks, a new report from Dr. Furth highlighting 15 amazing scientific facts about unborn babies at 15 weeks’ gestation, including:

  • By 15 weeks of pregnancy, every major organ has grown and most are functional.
    • The heart pumps 26 quarts of blood per day.
    • The intestines have started the lifelong contractions that propel food through the digestive system.
    • The kidneys already filter toxins.
  • The unborn baby prefers sucking his right or left thumb.
    • By studying ultrasounds, scientists have determined that 85% of unborn babies prefer moving their right hand over their left hand. About 85% of adults prefer their right hand, too.
    • If a twin, the unborn baby moves more gently when reaching toward her twin’s face.
  • The baby responds to taste.
    • Flavors from the mother’s food seep into the amniotic fluid, peaking after about 45 minutes.
    • If the amniotic fluid tastes sweet because of an injection of saccharin, the baby swallows more fluid. If the amniotic fluid tastes bitter, the baby swallows less.
  • The baby’s heart has already beat approximately 15,800,000 times.
    • A baby’s heart starts beating about 22 days after fertilization.
    • In total, a baby’s heart beats about 54 million times between conception and birth.
  • The baby’s body responds to both touch and pain.
    • The baby responds to light touches over most of the body.
    • If something touches the palm of the baby’s hand, the baby will bend his or her fingers as if to grasp the object.
    • Neurotransmitters specific to pain processing appear between 10- and 14-weeks’ gestation. The spinal nerves needed to transmit pain to the thalamus have formed by 15 weeks’ gestation.

CLI President Charles A. “Chuck” Donovan added:

“Science affirms what our Founding Fathers once declared.  All humans are created equal.  How can you follow the science of a 15-week preborn baby already being left-handed, with a heart that’s beat nearly 16 million times, and still fight to deny this little boy or little girl all of their unalienable rights?  Why does the abortion industry assume the right to play God?

“The Supreme Court must base its decision not on personal preference, but on facts as demonstrated through science, which is why the Charlotte Lozier Institute urges everyone interested in the Dobbs case – including lawmakers, members of the media, and ordinary Americans on both sides of the debate – to read this new scientific, evidence-based report and be equipped with the facts on human life at 15 weeks’ gestation.”

In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case involving Mississippi’s 15-week late abortion limit, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to consider whether all pre-viability limits on abortion are unconstitutional.  The case will be heard in the next term, which begins in October, with a decision most likely in the spring or summer of 2022.

Click here to read CLI’s full 15 Facts at 15 Weeks report, including references and citations.


Charlotte Lozier Institute was launched in 2011 as the education and research arm of Susan B. Anthony List.  CLI is a hub for research and public policy analysis on some of the most pressing issues facing the United States and nations around the world.  The Institute is named for a feminist physician known for her commitment to the sanctity of human life and equal career and educational opportunities for women. 


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