When answering questions regarding the continued legality and moral justification of abortion, one must first understand what the unborn are. What does it mean to abort a fetus? You may be surprised to learn that the science is conclusive and the answer is unanimous – human life begins at the moment of fertilization. Having an abortion means taking a human life. There is no way around it. It may be shocking to some people to realize that the unborn are distinct human beings. There is so much misinformation out there and lack of understanding on the part of both Pro-Choice and Pro-Life individuals and groups. People on both sides of the debate argue their view without any evidence. This is why I will be providing statements from medical examiners, scientists, Pro-Choice supporters and even the United States Senate. There should be no question whatsoever whether or not the unborn are human beings, and this being true, there needs to be accountability on the part of supporters of Amendment 73 for taking the life of a human being. Below I will now provide the testimonies of professionals regarding the unborn being distinct human beings from the moment of conception.
I felt it would be important to start with the testimony of Faye Wattleton, the longest reigning president of Planned Parenthood. She has been arguing since 1997 that everybody knows that abortion kills human beings. She says in an interview with Ms. Magazine, “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.” Naomi Wolf, a prominent feminist author and supporter of abortion, provides a similar statement. She says, “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.” You can see from this statement that Wolf is honest in saying abortion kills, but that she thinks she can justify abortion rights morally. In later articles I will show that there is absolutely no possible way, morally or ethically, to justify the killing of a human being.
I also came across a relevant statement from the author of A Defense of Abortion, David Noonin. Noonin says in his book, “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.” (pg. xiv).
With the three statements above from Pro-Choice advocates we can see that they understand the reality of abortion. All three of them acknowledge abortion as taking a life. All three of them also believe that the killing of certain human beings can be morally justified. Below I will provide excerpts from modern teaching texts which deal with embryology and prenatal development.
In the textbook The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 7th Edition, Keith L. Moore writes about the beginning of human development at fertilization and the beginning of a new human being. “Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm (spermatozoo development) unites with a female gamete or oocyte (ovum) to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marked the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.” He also explains the significance of the so-called zygote cell. “A zygote is the beginning of a new human being (i.e., an embryo).”
T.W. Sadler, in his book Langman’s Medical Embryology, 10th Edition, he writes, “Development begins with fertilization, the process by which the male gamete, the sperm, and the female gamete, the oocyte, unite to give rise to a zygote.” As we saw from the quote above, the zygote is the beginning stage of a new, completely distinct human being.
In 2008, Keith L. Moore wrote in his most recent book Before We Are Born: Essentials of Embryology, 7th Edition. In it he bluntly states, “[The zygote], formed by the union of an oocyte and a sperm, is the beginning of a new human being.” There can be no question that life begins at the moment of fertilization. To make a clearer statement, National Geographic released a video in 2006 entitled The Biology of Prenatal Development. In the video it is stated, “Biologically speaking, human development begins at fertilization.” Below are expert testimonies relating to life’s beginning."
"When fertilization is complete, a unique genetic human entity exists."
C. Christopher Hook, M.D.Oncologist, Mayo Clinic, Director of Ethics Education, Mayo Graduate School of Medicine
"Science has a very simple conception of man; as soon as he has been conceived, a man is a man."
Jerome Lejeune, M.D., Ph.D.
"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."
Professor Micheline Matthews-Roth Harvard University Medical School
"I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception."
Dr. Alfred M. Bongioanni Professor of Pediatrics and Obstetrics, University of Pennsylvania
"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
"By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception."
Professor Hymie Gordon Mayo Clinic
The official Senate report reached this conclusion:
"Physicians, biologists, and other scientists agree that conception marks the beginning of the life of a human being - a 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."
Now that there is no doubt that a human life begins at fertilization, the most common objection to ending abortion is that even though an embryo is technically alive at fertilization, it is still only a clump of cells. They also say that until the heart or brain are functioning, women should be free to have an abortion. That is where my next article will begin. Please come back soon to read my article on prenatal development. Thank you.