Life Begins at Conception. Here's a Ton of Evidence.

One common argument for abortion is that it is uncertain when human life begins. Here's the evidence that human life clearly begins at conception.
Abortion
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The assertion

In in article in one of its printed publications, NARAL asserts that “Personhood at conception is a religious belief, not a provable biological fact.”[1]

This argument seeks to justify abortion by claiming that there is no objective, scientific basis for believing that a pre-born baby is an actual person, which means that a pre-born baby does not have any rights, including the right to live.

Six answers

This argument for abortion is extremely weak and easy to respond to. Use the links below to jump to the various responses to this pro-abortion argument.

  1. Okay, let’s pretend that we can’t know when life begins. Shouldn’t we err on the side of caution?
  2. 7 Leading abortion supporters who admit that life begins at conception
  3. 4 Modern texts that teach life begins at conception and fertilization
  4. 11 Other texts that teach life begins at conception and fertilization
  5. 4 Expert medical testimony that life begins at conception and fertilization
  6. 5 Scientists and physicians affirm that life begins at conception and fertilization

Notes

This page heavily utilizes the following sources:

  1. Randy Alcorn's Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Questions
  2. "Medical Testimony:A new human being comes into existence during the process of fertilization." (abort73.com)

Unless otherwise noted, bold styling in quotes has been added.

^ 1. Okay, let’s pretend that we can’t know when life begins. Shouldn’t we err on the side of caution?

Let’s consider several other scenarios:

  • If you are driving at night and are not sure if there is a child in the middle of the road in front of you, do you keep driving and risk killing the child or do you stop?
  • If you come across a person who is injured and are not sure if he is dead, do you leave him to die, or do you try to help and save him?
  • If a hunter is uncertain if movement in the brush is because of a human or an animal, should he risk shooting or should he err on the side of caution?

Now, let’s ask the same question in regards to abortion: If we are uncertain if abortion is the killing of an actual human being, should we risk killing a human being or should we err on the side of caution?

7 Leading abortion supporters who admit that life begins at conception

Below are quotes from 7 prominent pro-abortion figures who recognize that human life begins at conception.

1. Faye Wattleton, longest reigning president of Planned Parenthood

In an interview with Ms. magazine in 1997, Wattleton admits the following:

I think we have deluded ourselves into believing that people don't know that abortion is killing. So any pretense that abortion is not killing is a signal of our ambivalence, a signal that we cannot say yes, it kills a fetus.[2]

2. Ann Furedi, chief executive of the largest independent abortion business in the UK

In a 2008 debate, Furedi said the following:

We can accept that the embryo is a living thing in the fact that it has a beating heart, that it has its own genetic system within it. It's clearly human in the sense that it's not a gerbil, and we can recognize that it is human life.[3]

3. Naomi Wolf, prominent feminist author and abortion supporter

Clinging to a rhetoric about abortion in which there is no life and no death, we entangle our beliefs in a series of self-delusions, fibs and evasions. And we risk becoming precisely what our critics charge us with being: callous, selfish and casually destructive men and women who share a cheapened view of human life... we need to contextualize the fight to defend abortion rights within a moral framework that admits that the death of a fetus is a real death[4].

4. David Boonin

In his book, A Defense of Abortion, Boonin writes the following:

In the top drawer of my desk, I keep [a picture of my son]. This picture was taken on September 7, 1993, 24 weeks before he was born. The sonogram image is murky, but it reveals clear enough a small head tilted back slightly, and an arm raised up and bent, with the hand pointing back toward the face and the thumb extended out toward the mouth. There is no doubt in my mind that this picture, too, shows [my son] at a very early stage in his physical development. And there is no question that the position I defend in this book entails that it would have been morally permissible to end his life at this point.[5]

5. Peter Singer, contemporary philosopher and public abortion advocate

In his book, Practical Ethics, Singer writes the following:

It is possible to give ‘human being’ a precise meaning. We can use it as equivalent to ‘member of the species Homo sapiens’. Whether a being is a member of a given species is something that can be determined scientifically, by an examination of the nature of the chromosomes in the cells of living organisms. In this sense there is no doubt that from the first moments of its existence an embryo conceived from human sperm and eggs is a human being.[6]

6. Bernard Nathanson, co-founder of one of the most influential abortion advocacy groups in the world (NARAL, the National Abortion Rights Action League), one time medical director for the largest abortion clinic in America

There is no longer serious doubt in my mind that human life exists within the womb from the very onset of pregnancy...[7]
There is simply no doubt that even the early embryo is a human being. All its genetic coding and all its features are indisputably human. As to being, there is no doubt that it exists, is alive, is self-directed, and is not the the same being as the mother—and is therefore a unified whole.[8]

7. Margaret Sanger, birth control pioneer who founded Planned Parenthood

Sanger publicly condemned abortion, saying that abortion is "dangerous and vicious."[9]

She justified contraception as being different from abortion by saying, "no new life begins unless there is conception." [10] Sanger recognized that if life begins at conception, then abortion is essentially "the killing of babies."[11]

^ 4 Modern texts that teach life begins at conception and fertilization

Keith L. Moore, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology

Human development begins at fertilization, approximately 14 days after the onset of the last menstrual period… when a sperm fuses with an oocyte to form a single cell, the zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.[12]

T.W. Sadler, Langman's Medical Embryology, 13th edition

Development begins with fertilization, the process by which the male gamete, the sperm, and the femal gamete, the oocyte, unite to give rise to a zygote.[13]

Keith L. Moore, Before We Are Born: Essentials of Embryology, 9th edition

Human development begins at fertilization when an oocyte (ovum) from a female is fertilized by a sperm (spermatozoon) from a male.[14]

Ronan O'Rahilly and Fabiola Müller, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology

Although life is a continuous process, fertilization (which, incidentally, is not a 'moment') is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new genetically distinct human organism is formed when the chromosomes of the male and female pronuclei blend in the oocyte.[15]

^ 11 Other texts that teach life begins at conception and fertilization

William J. Larsen, Essentials of Human Embryology

Human embryos begin development following the fusion of definitive male and female gametes during fertilization... This moment of zygote formation may be taken as the beginning or zero time point of embryonic development.[16]

Bradley M. Patten, Patten's Foundations of Embryology, 6th edition

The time of fertilization represents the starting point in the life history, or ontogeny, of the individual.[17]

Bradley M. Patten, Human Embryology: Elements of Clinical Development

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 the life of a new individual.[18]

J.P. Greenhill and E.A. Friedman, Biological Principles and Modern Practice of Obstetrics

The term conception refers to the union of the male and female pronuclear elements of procreation from which a new living being develops.[19]
The zygote thus formed represents the beginning of a new life.[20]

E.L. Potter and J.M. Craig, Pathology of the Fetus and the Infant, 3rd edition

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.[21]

Geraldine Lux Flanagan, Beginning of Life

Every baby begins life within the tiny globe of the mother's egg... It is beautifully translucent and fragile and it encompasses the vital links in which life is carried from one generation to the next. Within this tiny sphere great events take place. When one of the father's sperm cells, like the ones gathered here around the egg, succeeds in penetrating the egg and becomes united with it, a new life can begin.[22]

National Geographic, The Biology of Prenatal Development

Biologically speaking, human development begins at fertilization.[23]

National Geographic, In the Womb

The two cells gradually and gracefully become one. This is the moment of conception, when an individual's unique set of DNA is created, a human signature that never existed before and will never be repeated.[24]

Louis Fridhandler, "Gametogenesis to Implantation," Biology of Gestation, vol. 1

Fertilization is "that wondrous moment that marks the beginning of life for a new unique individual.[25]"

Time and Rand McNally, Adas of the Body

In fusing together, the male and female gametes produce a fertilized single cell, the zygote, which is the start of a new individual.[26]

"Pregnancy," New Encyclopedia Britannica

A new individual is created when the elements of a potent sperm merge with those of a fertile ovum, or egg.[27]

^ 4 Expert medical testimony that life begins at conception and fertilization

In 1981, a United States judiciary subcommittee invited experts to testify on when life beings.[28]

Dr. Alfred M. Bongioanni, professor of pediatrics and obstetrics at the University of Pennsylvania

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... 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, the discoverer of the chromosome pattern of Down syndrome.

After fertilization has taken place, a new human being has come into being... [This] is no longer a matter of taste or opinion... [this is] not a metaphysical contention; it is plain experimental evidence... 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 a simple and straightforward matter—the beginning is conception. This straightfoward biological fact should not be distorted to serve sociological, political, or economic goals.

No pro-abortion testimony

One prominent physician points out the following concerning these senate hearings:

Pro-abortionists, though invited to do so, did not produce even a single export witness who would specifically testify that life begins at any point other than conception or implantation. Only one witness said no one can tell when life begins.[29]

^ 5 Scientists and physicians affirm that life begins at conception and fertilization

Ashley Montague, geneticist and professor at Harvard and Rutgers

Montague is unsympathetic to the prolife cause, yet affirms the following:

The basic fact of life is simple: life begins not at birth, but conception.[30]

Dr. Bernard Nathanson, internationally known obstetrician and gynecologist

Nathanson was a cofounder of NARAL (the National Abortion Rights Action League). He was the owner and director of the largest abortion clinic in the western hemisphere at the time. His clinic conducted over 60,000 abortions.

However, after continuing to study the science of fetology and using ultrasound to observe unborn children in the womb, Nathanson concluded that he had been very mistaken about his view of abortion. He resigned from his position and 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."[31]

After this, Nathanson produced a film called The Silent Scream, where he says the following:

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 any of us.

Then, Nathanson wrote Aborting America to teach the public about the truth concerning the abortion rights movement, of which he had been a primary leader.[32]

Nathanson did all of this while he was still an atheist, and his conclusions were not based upon religion, but rather purely upon biological facts.

Dr. Landrum Shettles

Shettles was an attending obstetrician gynecologist for 27 years at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York. He was a pioneer in sperm biology, fertility, and sterility, and he is internationally famous for discovering male and female-producing sperm. His intrauterine photographs of preborn children appear in over 50 medical textbooks. Dr. Shettles says the following concerning abortion:

I oppose abortion. I do so, first, because I accept what is biologically manifest—that human life commences at the time of conception—and, second, because I believe it is wrong to take innocent human life under any circumstance. My position is scientific, pragmatic, and humanitarian.[33]

The First International Symposium on Abortion

This symposium came to the following conclusion:

The changes occuring between implantation, a six-week embryo, a six-month fetus, a one-week-old child, or a mature adult are merely stages of development and maturation. The majority of our group could find no point in time between the union of sperm and egg, or at least the blastocyst stage, and the birth of the infant at which point we could say that this was not a human life.[34]

The official Senate report on Senate Bill 158, the "Human Life Bill"

This report summarized the issue this way:

Physicians, biologists, and other scientists agree that conception marks the beginning of the life of a human being—being that is alive and is a member of the human species. There is overwhelming agreement on this point in countless medical, biological, and scientific writings.[35]

References

  1. ^ Polly Rothstein and Marian Williams, "Choice" (New York: Westchester Coalition for Legal Abortion, 1983), printed and distributed by the NARAL Foundation, Washington, DC.
  2. ^ Faye Wattleton, "Speaking Frankly," Ms., May/June 1997, Volume VII, Number 6, 67.
  3. ^ Ann Furedi, "Abortion: A Civilised Debate," Battle of Ideas, (London, England, November 1, 2008)
  4. ^ Naomi Wolf, "Our Bodies, Our Souls," The New Republic, October 16, 1995, 26.
  5. ^ David Boonin, A Defense of Abortion (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), xiv.
  6. ^ Peter Singer, Practical Ethics, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993, 2008), 85-86.
  7. ^ Bernard Nathanson, M.D., "Deeper into Abortion," New England Journal of Medicine, November 28, 1974, Vol. 291, No. 22: 1189-1190.
  8. ^ Bernard N. Nathanson, M.D., The Hand of God (Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, 1996), 131.
  9. ^ Margaret Sanger, Esther Katz, ed, “The Pope’s Position on Birth Control,” January 27, 1932. The Selected Papers of Margaret Sanger: Volume 2. (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2006), 150.
  10. ^ Ibid., 148.
  11. ^ Margaret Sanger, Esther Katz, ed, “Hotel Brevoort Speech,” January 17, 1916. The Selected Papers of Margaret Sanger: Volume 1. (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2003), 178.
  12. ^ Keith L. Moore, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 10th edition. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier, 2016. Kindle Locations 739, 1094.
  13. ^ T.W. Sadler, Langman's Medical Embryology, 13th edition. Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer, 2015. p. 14.
  14. ^ Keith L. Moore, Before We Are Born: Essentials of Embryology, 9th edition. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier, 2008. Kindle Location 555.
  15. ^ Ronan O'Rahilly and Fabiola Müller, Human Embryology and Teratology, 3rd edition. New York: Wiley-Liss, 2001. p. 8.
  16. ^ William J. Larsen, Essentials of Human Embryology. New York: Churchill Livingstone, 1998. pp. 1, 14.
  17. ^ Bruce M. Carlson, Patten's Foundations of Embryology, 6th edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996. p. 3.
  18. ^ Bradley M. Patten, Human Embryology, 3d ed. (New York: McGraw Hill, 1968), 43.
  19. ^ J.P. Greenhill and E.A. Friedman, Biological Principles and Modern Practice of Obstetrics. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders, 1974. pp. 17
  20. ^ Ibid., 23.
  21. ^ E.L. Potter and J.M. Craig, Pathology of the Fetus and the Infant, 3rd edition. Chicago: Year Book Medical Publishers, 1975. p. vii.
  22. ^ Geraldine Lux Flanagan, Beginning Life. New York: DK, 1996. p. 13.
  23. ^ The Biology of Prenatal Develpment, National Geographic, 2006.
  24. ^ In the Womb, National Geographic, 2005.
  25. ^ Louis Fridhandler, "Gametogenesis to Implantation," Biology of Gestation, vol. 1, e. N. S. Assau (New York: Academic Press, 1968), 76.
  26. ^ Time and Rand McNally, Adas of the Body (New York Rand McNally, 1980), 139,144.
  27. ^ "Pregnancy," New Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th ed., Macropedia, vol. 14 (Chicago, 111.: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1974), 968.
  28. ^ Subcommittee on Separation of Powers to Senate Judiciary Committee S-158, Report, 97th Congress, 1st Session, 1981
  29. ^ Landrum Settles and David Rorvik, Rites of Life: The Scientific Evidence for Life Before Birth (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Publishing House, 1983), 113.
  30. ^ Ashley Montague, Life Before Birth (New York: Signet Books, 1977), vi.
  31. ^ Bernard N. Nathanson, "Deeper into Abortion," New England Journal of Medicine, 291 (1974): 1189-90.
  32. ^ Bernard Nathanson, Aborting America (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1979).
  33. ^ Shettles and Rorvik, Rites of Life, 103.
  34. ^ John C. Willke, Abortion Questions and Answers (Cincinnati, Ohio: Hayes Publishing, 1988), 42.
  35. ^ Report, Subcommittee on Separation of Powers to Senate Judiciary Committee S-158, 97th Congress, 1st Session 1981, 7.

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