Jesus, as Fetus

One common argument that I’ve heard from the pro-abortion side is that in olden days, people didn’t actually consider fetuses to be children. For example, they would claim that before modern medical techniques were developed, nobody had an idea of what really happened in the womb. Therefore, they would say that nobody really considered that the children in the womb were actually children until just recently.

Yet… the more I look at religious art across the centuries, the more I wonder where they got information from. For example, look at this image, showing the Visitation, in which our Blessed Mother Mary meets her cousin Elizabeth.

Visitation of Mary and Elizabeth, c. 1460. Kremsmünster Abbey, Kremsmünster, Austria. Via
Visitation of Mary and Elizabeth, c. 1460. Kremsmünster Abbey, Kremsmünster, Austria.

In the bible, as soon as they meet, Elizabeth meets Mary, the child in her womb (aka, John the Baptist) leaps in her womb. And Elizabeth exclaims, “Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb!”

But look at the picture! Though Elizabeth and Mary are meeting… look who else is meeting! Jesus and John the Baptist are meeting! And they are clearly tiny little babies… much tinier than even a newborn.

Granted, not all is scientifically correct… John the Baptist is slightly older than Jesus by a couple of months, so he probably would actually be a lot bigger than Jesus when Mary meets Elizabeth. But, clearly, both fetuses are clearly represented as tiny humans. Nor is this sort of image of the Visitation a rarity. There are many icons of the Visitation that show this meeting between Jesus and John the Baptist, as fetuses, exactly like this that stretch across centuries.

So, the next time you hear this argument asserted to discredit the Church’s stance on abortion? Show them some sacred artwork! Maybe it won’t change their minds, but hopefully they’ll rethink this faulty argument before using it again… 😉

Dear Jesus,

Thank You for being present in our world from the very moment that You were conceived. Help us recognize Your presence, even when You seem to be hidden from us.


Karina Tabone

Karina Tabone is a wife, mother of four, author, blogger, and lover of Christian artwork. She's the author of the Illustrated Rosary series, which pairs every prayer of the Rosary with beautiful religious artwork. She likes also milkshakes, sunshine, and mystery novels. Follow her on Twitter at @illustr_prayer.

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