Politics & Policy

The Corner

Democrats Used to Know That Life Begins at Conception

In response to

Last week I posted about a proposed HHS strategic plan that will, if implemented, declare:

HHS accomplishes its mission through programs and initiatives that cover a wide spectrum of activities, serving and protecting Americans at every stage of life, beginning at conception…

Oh, the screaming among the usual suspects.

What I didn’t know was that Democrat administrations used to acknowledge this basic biological fact.

But the splendid Richard Doerflinger, recently retired from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, dealt with this issue for decades in the context of his professional pro-life advocacy. He writes, “Various Democratic administrations whose departments and advisory commissions had said exactly the same thing.” 

Specifically (my emphasis):

“Life is a constantly evolving process that begins with conception and continues until death.

Movement through time necessitates change and therefore is synonymous with life itself; the opposite state is stasis and death…. With the passage of time, the human organism grows from a single cell to a fully developed adult…. Life begins when a male sperm unites with a female egg.

The new life created by this union starts as a single cell…. In relation to the total life span of the individual, the early developmental years are short and serve as the foundation for the remainder of one’s life span. The needs of a child in the support of this growth and development begin before birth and continue throughout the growth years until maturity is reached.”

– U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, The Status of Children, Youth, and Families 1979, DHHS Publication No. (OHDS) 80-30274, pp. 29-30

Federal advisory commissions appointed by Clinton Administration

– 1994: “The preimplantation human embryo warrants serious moral consideration as a developing form of human life.” 

 National Institutes of Health, Report of the Human Embryo Research Panel (Sept. 1994), p. 2. 

– 1999: “[M]ost would agree that human embryos deserve respect as a form of human life.” 

President Clinton’s National Bioethics Advisory Commission, Ethical Issues in Human Stem Cell Research (September 1999), Vol. I, p. ii.

Thanks, Richard!

Notice the watering-down of basic biology as time passes-from an accurate scientific description to, “Most would agree…” And now? Science deniers!

I am against transhumanism, but in Richard’s case, an exception will have to be made.

When, decades from now, he moves along to his reward, we are going to have to upload his mind into a computer.The Doerflinger invaluable institutional memory must be retained!

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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