The Inconvenient Truth of Prenatal Science

scienceI’ve often thought that one of the best things that could happen to the pro-life movement is for the “pro-choice” movement to get its own 24-hour cable channel.

Just give them a camera, give them a microphone, and let them talk. And talk. And talk some more.

The more they try to justify their position, the more bizarre their arguments become.

This is what went through my mind while I was watching video footage from a debate held October 20 at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado about Amendment 62, the state’s proposed Personhood Amendment.

“We Are Not Gonna Try to Use Science”

After the pro-life case was presented, members of the campus group Advocates for Choice — which is sponsored by Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains — responded. You really have to hear for yourself some of the statements they made:

I think that science overlooks a huge fact here. This is a matter of opinion, it’s a matter of beliefs, it’s a matter of morals, if you want to say. So, we are not gonna try to use science, or evidence. The fact of the matter is that this is opinion. We all have our own beliefs as far as when human life begins.

In other words: Forget science, it’s all about me!

Science can not be applied to my body to force me to do something against my will.

Yes, because everyone knows that if one wants to levitate, all one has to do is jump, and sheer willpower will render the earth’s gravitational pull impotent. (I’ve previously addressed a variation on this argument on the Generations for Life blog.)

All of us women out there, we shed fertilized eggs pretty much every month.

Christina Dunigan walks us through the problems with this statement:

1. Humans are viviparous. We don’t lay eggs. So there’s no such thing as a “fertilized egg” in human biology. The term she should use is either zygote or blastocyst.

2. A woman would have to be sexually active in order to conceive and thus “shed” a zygote. So the “we” she refers to would only include women who were sexually active that month.

3. Sexually active women don’t conceive every month. There’d be a lot less infertility if they did.

4. Even if every sexually active woman did conceive every month, and the majority of those zygotes died natural deaths, we all die eventually. Using a high mortality rate to justify deliberate killing is a pretty slippery slope.

Quite so.

Another “choice” quote:

There’s people on this side, for their researchers say that the heart beats in — 21 days. There’s people on our side, researchers, that says that the heart doesn’t beat until 24 weeks.

To which we ought to justly reply: Oh? Name one.

A video that included portions of the pro-life presentation along with comments from members of Advocates for Choice is no longer available on YouTube, but there’s a short version of the highlights here:

What Does Planned Parenthood Say about When Life Begins?

Lest anyone watching this video footage think that the members of Advocates for Choice must have simply forgotten to brush up on their Pro-Choice Talking Points before the debate started, it’s worth pointing out that some of their remarks actually do correspond quite well to the responses Planned Parenthood gives in the Q & A section on its website.

Here’s how Planned Parenthood deals with the question of when life begins:

My friend says that life begins when the egg and sperm join together. I say that it begins when a baby takes its first breath. Which of us is right?

All kinds of people — theologians, philosophers, scientists, lawyers, legislators, and many others — hold very different views about when life begins. In fact, both the egg and the sperm are living things before they meet and join. There’s no real argument there.

The really hot question is, “When does being a person begin?” Most medical authorities and Planned Parenthood agree that it starts when a baby takes its first breath.

Some of our oldest religions have changed their views about this question many times over the centuries. Today, some people sincerely believe that being a person begins when the egg is fertilized. Some, just as sincerely, believe that it begins with birth. And lots of others believe it begins somewhere in between.

What we are all sure about is that a pregnant woman is a person. We know for sure that she has morals, feelings, human needs, and a conscience. Because of this, we know that she is the only one able to make a decision about her pregnancy options. She does it based on her own needs, ethics, and religious belief about when being a person begins. It would be wrong to force her to observe someone else’s religious belief.

Interesting, isn’t it, how Planned Parenthood completely avoids answering the question about when life begins?

And then, how they shift the discussion to “the really hot question” of personhood, which they claim “most medical authorities” agree begins when a “baby takes its first breath”? (One wonders if any of these unnamed “medical authorities” also say the heart doesn’t beat until 24 weeks from conception?)

This also prompts the question: Since, by Planned Parenthood’s definition, a newborn baby who is completely outside of her mother’s body but who has not yet taken her first breath is not a person, is it morally permissible to kill her?

Sowing Confusion

Oddly enough, Planned Parenthood’s own publications years ago actually said that “abortion kills the life of a baby after it has begun”. But now, in response to the question of when life begins, they want people to come away so confused as to believe that no one could ever possibly know, with certainty, when life begins. And therefore — contra the Precautionary Principle — they see nothing wrong whatsoever with abortion.

Toeing the company line, Planned Parenthood’s own employees who have spoken out publicly on the matter of when life or personhood begins have likewise given decidedly un-scientific responses.

For instance, Jill Meadows, medical director of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, believes “life begins, not at conception, but when it becomes meaningful” — whatever that means.

Or consider these remarks from Durango abortionist Richard Grossman:

When a woman says a fetus is a person, I think it is one. I believe the woman empowers the fetus.

Forget the fact that a baby in the womb is a genetically distinct, whole human being with its own DNA. If a child’s mother says it’s not a person, then it isn’t, according to Grossman.

Incidentally, Grossman also wrote earlier this week in an op-ed against Amendment 62:

If Amendment 62 passes, it would make removing a diseased ovary illegal. Worse, a doctor who performs such a lifesaving surgery would be punished for murder.

Here is what the proposed Amendment 62 says: “Person defined. As used in sections 3, 6, and 25 of Article II of the state constitution, the term ‘person’ shall apply to every human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being.”

Anyone who graduated from an eighth-grade health class knows that the start of the biological development is the human egg, and girls are born with all the eggs that their ovaries will ever contain. So removing an ovary – even if diseased – would mean the removal of thousands of “persons.”

How does one even begin to address the insanity of these words?

An Inconvenient Truth

Because the “pro-choice” side doesn’t have a scientific leg to stand on to support their position, it shouldn’t surprise us that they would throw science under the bus by giving voice to statements like those made Grossman, Meadows, and the Fort Lewis Advocates for Choice.

But considering how often their side tars our side with the “anti-science” label, the irony is breathtaking.


For an excellent treatment of the question, “When Does Human Life Begin?” read this white paper by Dr. Maureen Condic, professor of neurobiology at the University of Utah.

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