What does modern science conclude about when human life begins? (Excerpts)
By Dr. John Ankerberg and John Weldon
http://www.ankerberg.com/Articles/apologetics/AP0805W3.htm The complete article is available in print friendly PDF format at: http://www.ankerberg.com/Articles/_PDFArchives/apologetics/AP3W0805.pdf
The scientific authorities on when life begins are biologists. But these are often the last people consulted in seeking an answer to the question. What modern science has concluded is crystal clear: Human life begins at conception. This is a matter of scientific fact, not philosophy, speculation, opinion, conjecture, or theory. Today, the evidence that human life begins at conception is a fact so well documented that no intellectually honest and informed scientist or physician can deny it.
In 1973, the Supreme Court concluded in its Roe v. Wade decision that it did not have to decide the “difficult question” of when life begins. Why? In essence, they said, “It is impossible to say when human life begins.” The Court misled the public then, and others continue to mislead the public today.
Anyone familiar with recent Supreme Court history knows that two years before Roe V. Wade, in October 1971, a group of 220 distinguished physicians, scientists, and professors submitted an amicus curiae brief (advice to a court on some legal matter) to the Supreme Court. They showed the Court how modern science had already established that human life is a continuum and that the unborn child from the moment of conception on is a person and must be considered a person, like its mother. The brief set as its task “to show how clearly and conclusively modern scienceembryology, fetology, genetics, perinatology, all of biologyestablishes the humanity of the unborn child.” For example,
In its seventh week, [the pre-born child] bears the familiar external features and all the internal organs of the adult.... The brain in configuration is already like the adult brain and sends out impulses that coordinate the function of other organs . The heart beats sturdily. The stomach produces digestive juices. The liver manufactures blood cells and the kidneys begin to function by extracting uric acid from the childs blood.... The muscles of the arms and body can already be set in motion. After the eighth week everything is already present that will be found in the full term baby.
This brief proved beyond any doubt scientifically that human life begins at conception and that “the unborn is a person within the meaning of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.”
Thus, even though the Supreme Court had been properly informed as to the scientific evidence, they still chose to argue that the evidence was insufficient to show the pre-born child was fully human. In essence, their decision merely reflected social engineering and opinion, not scientific fact. Even during the growing abortion debate in 1970, the editors of the scientific journal California Medicine noted the “curious avoidance of the scientific fact, which everyone really knows, that human life begins at conception and is continuous whether intra- or extra-uterine until death.”
In 1981, the United States Congress conducted hearings to answer the question, “When does human life begin?” A group of internationally known scientists appeared before a Senate judiciary subcommittee.
The U.S. Congress was told by Harvard University Medical Schools Professor Micheline Matthews-Roth, “In biology and in medicine, it is an accepted fact that the life of any individual organism reproducing by sexual reproduction begins at conception....”
Dr. Watson A. Bowes, Jr., of the University of Colorado Medical School, testified that “the beginning of a single human life is from a biological point of view a simple and straightforward matterthe beginning is conception. This straightforward biological fact should not be distorted to serve sociological, political or economic goals.”
Dr. Alfred Bongiovanni of the University of Pennsylvania Medical School noted: “The standard medical texts have long taught that human life begins at conception.”
He added: “I am no more prepared to say that these early stages 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 albeit incomplete until late adolescence.”
Dr. McCarthy De Mere, who is a practicing physician as well as a law professor at the University of Tennessee, testified: “The exact moment of the beginning [of] personhood and of the human body is at the moment of conception.”
World-famous geneticist Dr. Jerome Lejeune, professor of fundamental genetics at the University of Descarte, Paris, France, declared, “each individual has a very unique beginning, the moment of its conception.”
Dr. Lejeune also emphasized: “The human nature of the human being from conception to old age is not a metaphysical contention, it is plain experimental evidence.”
The chairman of the Department of Medical Genetics at the Mayo Clinic, Professor Hymie Gordon, testified, “By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception.”
He further emphasized: “now we can say, unequivocally, that the question of when life begins is an established scientific fact . It is an established fact that all life, including human life, begins at the moment of conception.”
This Senate report concluded:
Physicians, biologists, and other scientists agree that conception marks the beginning of the life of a human beinga 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.
In 1981, only a single scientist disagreed with the majoritys conclusion, and he did so on philosophical rather than scientific grounds. In fact, abortion advocates, although invited to do so, failed to produce even one expert witness who would specifically testify that life begins at any other point than conception.
Again, let us stress that this is not a matter of religion, it is solely a matter of science. Scientists of every religious view and no religious viewagnostic, Jewish, Buddhist, atheist, Christian, Hindu, etc.all agree that life begins at conception. This explains why, for example, the International Code of Medical Ethics asserts: “A doctor must always bear in mind the importance of preserving human life from the time of conception until death.”
This is also why the Declaration of Geneva holds physicians to the following: “I will maintain the utmost respect for human life from the time of conception; even under threat, I will not use my medical knowledge contrary to the laws of humanity.” These statements can be found in the World Medical Association Bulletin for April 1949 (vol.1, p. 22) and January 1950 (vol. 2, p. 5). In 1970, the World Medical Association again reaffirmed the Declaration of Geneva.
What difference does it make that human life begins at conception? The difference is this: If human life begins at conception, then abortion is the killing of a human life.
To deny this fact is scientifically impossible.
Please FreepMail me if you want on or off my Pro-Life Ping List.
If Obama has no empathy for the innocent Unborn who says he will be Compassionate to living folk
the depth of the stupidity of this answer is not apparent on first reflection. It wasn't even pointed out as a gaffe by the Fox analyzers at half time as they praised BO's performance. I'll admit, it must have come between so many hems, haws and ums, I missed hearing it myself as I listened.
Sometimes, life tosses us a question that we have to answer... above our pay grade... or not. If we ignore it... we give darker forces time to formulate their own answer and ultimately... the final word.
Thus Obama cannot take issue with the assertion that life begins at conception.
He has conceded that a fetus might be a living human being.
If a fetus might be a living human being, then aborting it is killing a human being.
What is his justification for allowing what might be killing a human being?
bump bump bump
Did anyone see Fox and Friends this morning w/ Ralph Reed and Joel Hunter? Hunter is my EX pastor. I left because of his left leanings.
He claims obama was ‘technically right’ because the bible doesn’t specify when life begins!! I honestly couldn’t beleive some of the things he said (oh yes I could).
That the crowd was just looking for ‘amen’ moments so McCain was bound to do well there.
That they came out ‘even’.
That abortions haven’t dropped at all with any pro life policies in place.
Cover of 1965 issue of LIFE Magazine. The issue, published eight years before the lies of Roe v Wade covered in detail the scientific facts of life in the womb with amazing imagery.
Sen. Obama. You cannot be both Christian and pro-choice on abortion. The two are diametrically opposedpolar opposites. If you think you are both you are living a lie.
If life doesn’t begin at conception, then why is it illegal to kill the fetus of protected animals? Try crushing the eggs of a song bird and see what the federal government does.
It is time that we demand real change, and real change means the end of Roe vs. Wade.
...and Obama’s answer to the christian question was weasely enought to be non-threatening to any moslem.
“....above his paygrade....”
Give me a break - HE NEVER EVEN HAD THE NUTS TO ANSWER THE GIVEN QUESTION. A simple answer, either a) at conception or b) at birth - which one is it?
I think what most people are missing is that B-O’s answer ALSO allows him to suggest that only God knows the answer without actually having to mention God. He is attempting to have it both ways...believers infer that he is deferring to God, while non-believers infer that he is deferring to scientists.
Mr Obama, since our LAWS cannot be as undefined as your non-answer, and MUST SPECIFY when life begins in order to say
legal here, illegal there,
and you’re running for the CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER of the United States,
I believe that it is necessary for you to clearly define your belief in what those laws should be.
So, again, when in your belife should it be defined that life begins and is worthy of the protection of law?
No we mustn't. Sperm are alive and eggs are alive. Life doesn't spring out of unLife.
And Life is also a legal term and the abortion issue is also a legal debate. It doesn't do any good to purposively confuse the terms and confuse the issue, especially when you don't have to.
This reminds me of the pro-drug war people criticizing the "victimless crime" argument, saying people who abuse drugs are too "victims". They confuse the terms, "victimless" is first a legal term.
In our legal system, there are times that taking a life is legal. So, saying every life requires absolute legal protection is nonsense and a losing argument. It also turns off people, who fear that religion is going to be enacted into law.
You've got to know your audience, you've got to make arguments that will appeal to them.
Either you're being disingenuous, or your grasp of science is incredibly weak. Science cannot determine when "life" begins, because the term itself is open to interpretation. Science can determine when brain waves begin, when a heartbeat is likely to continue independenet of the mother, when cells divide, etc. However, it's an arbitrary decision when to label it "life". As you point out yourself, it's about the terminology ("control the language"), not about science.