The Corner


When ‘Life’ and ‘Pregnancy’ Begin Are Different Concepts

The anti-science liberals are denying again that human life begins with the completion of fertilization (without getting into an arcane debate of the exact moment that process is completed).

Thomas Edsall uses his NYT column to mock that embryology truth. From, “The Republican Conception of Conception:”

Fifteen percent of the Republican presidential candidates, including Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and Carla Fiorina contend life begins at conception.

So do embryology text books. As I have written here and elsewhere before, the science notes that once conception is complete, a new human individual organism has come into existence, with its own distinct genetic makeup, a determined sex, etc. Here’s just one quote from such a text:

Human development is a continuous process that begins when an oocyte (ovum) from a female is fertilized by a sperm (or spermatozoon) from a male. (p. 2); … but the embryo begins to develop as soon as the oocyte is fertilized. (p. 2); …

Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm … unites with a female gamete or oocyte … to form a single cell. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.

That’s the science. And if we are to be “pro-science,” accuracy in biology must inform our policy positions.

When “life” begins is a different question from when “pregnancy” begins. Edsall notes that the government and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (as ideological as scientific) claim pregnancy begins on implantation. 

That is certainly true in IVF, and for the sake of argument, let is agree it is true in natural reproduction. But what is implanted? Edsall uses a popular, but scientifically inaccurate term:

I wrote Kate Connors of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecology to ask, “What does ACOG say about the contention of pro-lifers that IUDs can prevent implantation of the fertilized egg?”

Once an egg is fertilized, it is no longer an egg, but an embryo. Hence, if an IUD prevents implantation–still unknown–it may not disrupt a pregnancy since, arguably, one never occurred due to the IUD.

But if it does prevent implantation, it causes a human life to end by preventing the developing organism from remaining in an environment required for further existence.

By the way, the term, “fertilized egg,” is a commonly used oxymoron that some deploy instead of the correct “embryo” in the abortion and stem cell debates as a way dehumanize the subject of the discussion.

Now, whether that matters morally is not a scientific question, but one of ethics, philosophy, and/or religion.

It is ironic that advocates like Edsall mock pro-lifers–for having their science correct–when they are the ones actually allowing their ideology to subsume scientific facts.

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