Abortion. Abortion. Abortion.
Yes, I know. We’ve debated the issue repeatedly on Sifting Reality and it always seems to end in a stalemate. Like Simic says, we pretend to be rushing off somewhere but we never get anywhere.
But I’m writing this post for a friend with whom I work. He’s a recent hire, and he’s very bright. And though I’m sure he would prefer a less provocative label, I would classify him as a socialist with sense. He is not dogmatic or ideological in any way, and I’ve found myself actually agreeing with many of his economic views. We haven’t discussed very many social issues as yet, save a brief dialogue on abortion. It didn’t progress very far because we were working at the time and weren’t totally devoted to the issue. It was almost an after-thought. So I assured him I would present my arguments on this blog.
So, here goes nothing.
Does Life Begin At Conception?
Since the question, and the answer, are matters of science, allow me to answer accordingly.
“After fertilization has taken place, a new human being has come into being. [It] is no longer a matter of taste or opinion; it is plain experimental evidence. Each individual has a very neat beginning, at conception.” ~ Dr. Jerome LeJeune, professor of genetics at the University of Descartes in Paris.
“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. Micheline Matthews-Roth, Harvard Medical School
“By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception.” ~ Professor Hymie Gordon, Mayo Clinic
”The beginning of a single human life is from a biological point of view a simple and straightforward matter – the beginning is conception.”~ Dr. Watson A. Bowes, University of Colorado Medical School
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 human life.” ~ Dr. Alfred M. Bongioanni, professor of pediatrics and obstetrics at the University of Pennsylvania.
Let me also quote some medical textbooks.
Almost all higher animals start their lives from a single cell, the fertilized ovum (zygote). The time of fertilization represents the starting point in the life history, or ontogeny, of the individual.
Although life is a continuous process, fertilization is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is thereby formed.
Now, this medical fact, i.e., that life begins at conception, should settle the aforementioned question and also discredit the argument that somehow killing a spermatozoon is the moral equivalent of abortion. It most certainly is not. A spermatozoon is part of a unique individual, as a skin cell or drop of blood; it is not itself a unique individual. This, of course, is not mere semantics. It is science. It is fact.
Of course, my coworker is not a moron and is quite capable of understanding the science well-enough. His question, I think, is simply this: [D]oes the human organism present at conception qualify as a person?
To this question, I would ask: [S]ince when is humanity something achieved or attained? Since when is humanity, personhood, anything other than an innate quality? It is a scientific fact that human life is present the moment of conception. This, therefore, is the beginning of the developmental process that passes through birth, infancy, childhood, puberty, adulthood, and finally death.
If I am correct, and I believe I am, then it logically follows that the pro-choice position hinges on a belief that the worth of an individual is tied to the developmental stage in which they currently reside. And I submit that this view is inherently dangerous and illogical.
To say, for example, that personhood doesn’t begin until brain waves appear, or until the individual is self-aware, or whatever, is unscientific by nature. Such views are subjective opinions that are based on one’s own moral and political philosophy. They cannot be scientific, since personhood is a legal and/or philosophical perspective. And thus, with relative ease, anyone could formulate an arbitrary requisite to personhood that precludes millions of people. And so I ask: [S]hould our laws reflect subjective opinion or experimental evidence?
Now, my coworker mentioned more than once the reality of children growing up unwanted, growing up in orphanages, and so on. He believes that abortion is an effective way of preventing human suffering. I will respond to that particular argument in another post. Right now, I want to present him with the primary reason I reject abortion.
Now please, welcome him to Sifting Reality. I know many of you will agree with his views immediately, since we boast many of the pro-choice persuasion. But I would ask that my pro-life friends welcome him as well.