This is an excerpt from Randy Alcorn’s book (older edition), “Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments Expanded & Updated“
It is uncertain when human life begins; that’s a religious question that cannot be answered by science.
An article printed and distributed by the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL [the original, and still largest pro-choice organization]) describes as anti-choice the position that human life begins at conception. It says the pro-choice position is, Personhood at conception is a religious belief, not a provable biological fact.
Bill O’Reilly of Fox News said on July 3, 2000, “No one knows when human life begins.” He made no distinction between biological life and any other kind of life. Mr. OReilly then went on to ask a guest if “is an embryo in a [petri] dish a human life”? Sen. Hatch’s claim that “an embryo in a petri dish is not a human life”?
1a. If there is uncertainty about when human life begins, the benefit of the doubt should go to preserving life.
[One of the reasons the Supreme Court allowed the legalization of abortion is that they werent sure of when life began.] Suppose there is uncertainty about when human life begins. If a hunter is uncertain whether a movement in the brush is caused by a person, does his uncertainty lead him to fire or not to fire? If youre driving at night and you think the dark figure ahead on the road may be a child, but it may be just a shadow of a tree, do you drive into it or do you put on the brakes? If we find someone who may be dead or alive, but were not sure, what is the best policy? To assume he is alive and try to save him, or to assume he is dead and walk away?
Shouldn’t we give the benefit of the doubt to life? Otherwise we are saying, This may or may not be a child, therefore it’s all right to destroy it.
1b. Medical Textbooks and scientific reference works constantly agree that human life begins at conception.
Many people have been told that there is no medical or scientific consensus as to when human life begins. This is simply untrue. Among those scientists who have no vested (monetary) in the abortion issue, there is an overwhelming consensus that human life begins at conception. (Conception is the moment when the egg is fertilized by the sperm, bringing into existence the zygote, which is a genetically distinct individual.)
Dr. Bradley M. Pattens textbook, Human Embryology, states:
- It is the penetration of the ovum by a spermatozoan and the resultant mingling of the nuclear material each brings to the union that constitutes the culmination of the process of fertilization and marks the initiation of a new individual.
Dr. Keith L. Moores text on embryology, referring to the single cell zygote, says:
- The cell results from fertilization of an oocyte by a sperm and is the beginning of a human being. He also states, Each of us started life as a cell called a zygote.
Doctors J. P. Greenhill and E. A. Friedman, in their work on biology and obstetrics, state:
- The zygote thus formed represents the beginning of a new life.
Dr. Louis Fridhandler, in the medical textbook Biology of Gestation, refers to fertilization as:
- that wondrous moment that marks the beginning of life for a new unique individual.
Doctors E. L. Potter and J. M. Craig write in Pathology of the Fetus and the Infant:
- Every time a sperm cell and ovum unite a new being is created which is alive and will continue to live unless its death is brought about by some specific condition.
Popular scientific reference works reflect this same understanding of when human life begins. Time and Rand McNallys Atlas of the Human Body states:
- In fusing together, the male and female gametes produce a fertilized single cell, the zygote, which is the start of a new individual.
In an article on pregnancy, the Encyclopedia Britannica says:
- A new individual is created when the elements of a potent sperm merge with those of a fertile ovum, or egg.
These sources confidently affirm, with no hint of uncertainty that life begins at conception. They state not a theory or hypothesis and certainly not a religious belief every one is a secular source. Their conclusion is squarely based on the scientific and medical facts.
1c. Some of the worlds most prominent scientist and physicians testified to a U. S. Senate committee that human life begins at conception.
In 1981, a United States Senate Judiciary Subcommittee invited experts to testify on the question of when life begins. Al of the quotes from the following experts come directly from the official government record of their testimony.
Dr. Alfred M. Bongioanni, professor of pediatrics and obstetrics at the University of Pennsylvania, stated:
- I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception. I submit that human life is present throughout this entire sequence from conception to adulthood and that any interruption at any point throughout this time constitutes a termination of a human life.
I am no more prepared to say that these early stages [of development in the womb] represent an incomplete human being than I would be to say that the child prior to the dramatic effects of puberty is not a human being. This is human life at every stage.
Dr. Jerome LeJeune, professor of genetics at the University of Descartes in Paris, was the discoverer of the chromosome pattern of Downs syndrome. Dr. LeJeune testified to the Judiciary Subcommittee that:
- after fertilization has taken place a new human being has come into being. He stated that this is no longer a matter of taste or opinion, and not a metaphysical contention, it is plain experimental evidence. He added, Each individual has a very neat beginning, at conception.
Professor Hymie Gordon, Mayo Clinic:
- By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception.
Professor Micheline Matthews-Roth, Harvard University Medical School:
- It is incorrect to say that biological data cannot be decisive. It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception. Our laws, one function of which is to help preserve the lives of our people, should be based on accurate scientific data.
Dr. Watson A. Bowes, University of Colorado Medical School:
- The beginning of a single human life is from a biological point of view as simple and straightforward matter the beginning is conception. This straightforward biological fact should not be distorted to serve sociological [familial, age, or medical advances], political [pro-choice], or economic goals [cannot finish school].
A prominent physician points out that at these Senate hearings, Pro-abortionists, though invited to do so, failed to produce even a single expert witness who could specifically testify that life begins at any other point other than conception or implantation.
1d. Many other prominent scientists and physicians have likewise affirmed with certainty that human life begins at conception.
Ashley Montague, a geneticist and professor at Harvard and Rutgers, is unsympathetic to the pro-life cause. Nevertheless, he affirms unequivocally, The basic fact is simple: Life begins not at birth, but conception.
Dr. Bernard Nathanson, internationally known obstetrician and gynecologist, was co-founder of what is now the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL [Dr. Nathanson help start the entire pro-choice movement]). He owned and operated what was at the time the largest abortion clinic in the Western hemisphere. He was directly involved in over sixty thousand abortions.
Dr. Nathansons study of developments in the science of fetology and his use of ultrasound to observe the unborn child in the womb led him to the conclusion that he had made a horrible mistake. Resigning from his lucrative position, Nathanson wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine that he was deeply troubled by his increasing certainty that I had in fact presided over 60, 000 deaths.
In his film, The Silent Scream, Dr. Nathanson later stated, Modern technologies have convinced us that beyond question the unborn child is simply another human being, another member of the human community, indistinguishable in every way from us. Dr. Nathanson wrote Aborting America to inform the public of the realities behind the abortion rights movement of which he had been a primary leader. At the time Dr. Nathanson was an atheist. His conclusions were not even remotely religious, but squarely based on the biological facts.
Dr. Lundrum Shettles was for twenty-seven years attending obstetrician-gynecologist at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York. Shettles was a pioneer in sperm biology, fertility, and sterility. He is internationally famous for being the discoverer of male- and female- producing sperm. His intrauterine photographs of preborn children appear in over fifty medical textbooks. Dr. Shettles staes:
- I oppose abortion, I do so, first, because I accept what is biologically manifest that human life commences at the same time of conception and, secondly, because I believe it is wrong to take innocent human life under any circumstances. My position is scientific, pragmatic, and humanitarian.
The official Senate report on Senate Bill 158, the Human Life Bill, summarized the issue this way:
- Physicians, biologists, and other scientists agree that conception marks the beginning of the life of a humans being a being that is and is a member of the human species. There is overwhelming agreement on this point in countless medical, biological, and scientific writings.
Does It Matter?
In a statement form the The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, Director of Media and Policy Daniel McConchie said:
- “Stem cell lines are quickly becoming marketable items. Once some integral human parts can be bought and sold, we run the risk that democratic societies will decide that other weak and defenseless members of the human race in those societies can be utilized for profits as well.”
Jews and Blacks were once said by the courts to be less than human, I wonder if we are headed down that path again?