Sunday, October 21, 2007

Speaking as a Former Fetus, I was Always a Human Being—According to Science

This is Part 3 of the "Scream Bloody Murder" series of postings.

Parts 1 & 2 can be found here:
Part 1 Scream Bloody Murder
Part 2 Only One Question To Ask: What Is The Unborn?

We are about to tackle the question “What is the Unborn?”

For many people, until we settle that all-important question there's little point raising our original question: “Why aren’t we screaming bloody murder about the killing of unborn children in Canada?”


Ok, it’s true I looked a little different when I was a fetus but when I was a newborn I also looked more than a little scary compared to nice attractive grown-ups.

But seriously, what—if any—were the significant differences between the fetus (or embryo) I once was and the adult which I am today?

I will use arguments from three sources (other than common sense) to show that from the time of my conception I was always a human being, even before I emerged from my mother’s womb.

The three sources are science, philosophy and theology. It’s enough for me as a Christian to know what the Holy Scriptures and the Church have taught on this subject for thousands of years but many people are either uninformed or simply unbelievers so I start first with the claims of science and philosophy.

This posting deals with basic arguments from science and medicine.

Science and Medicine Certified my Humanity as a Fetus

[adapted from Life Training Institute “The Case for Life”]

The facts of science make it clear that from the earliest stages of my development in the womb of my mother, I was a distinct, living, and whole human being. To make this perfectly clear on a personal level, if my mother had "successfully" aborted me while in the fetal stage, it would have meant the end of THIS living human being—ME!

The Medical community has been on record for a very long time regarding the fact of the humanity of the unborn “child” as a “living being.”

In its 1859 Report on Criminal Abortion, the American Medical Association (AMA) understood that "the independent and actual existence of the child before birth as a living being" was a scientific truth. Nothing has changed since that time. For the past 150 years doctors have known that life begins at conception.

Embryology textbooks make it clear my life as a human being started at fertilization (conception).

"It is the penetration of the ovum by a spermatozoan and resultant mingling of the nuclear material that 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." (Bradley M. Patten, Human Embryology, 3rd ed., New York: McGraw Hill, 1968, page 43.)

Any Old Cell Will Do?

Does it make any sense to say that I was once a sperm or somatic cell? No, because it’s simply bad biology. However, the facts of science make clear that I was once a human embryo.

Robert George and Patrick Lee say it well.

“Somatic cells are not, and embryonic human beings are, distinct, self-integrating organisms capable of directing their own maturation as members of the human species.”

From conception forward, says Dr. Maureen Condic, human embryos clearly function as whole organisms.

“Embryos are not merely collections of human cells, but living creatures with all the properties that define any organism as distinct from a group of cells; embryos are capable of growing, maturing, maintaining a physiologic balance between various organ systems, adapting to changing circumstances, and repairing injury. Mere groups of human cells do nothing like this under any circumstances.”

In the next posting we'll look at the question "What is the Unborn?" from the point of view of philosophy. be continued in Part 4

Part 4 Speaking as a Former Fetus, I was Always a Human Being—According to Philosophy

For a more thorough treatment of the subject matter covered in this posting the reader can refer to the information available at Life Training Institute or consult the excellent online treatise by Dr. Stephen Schwarz entitled The Moral Question of Abortion. Also, Dr. Francis Beckwith’s new book Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice can now be purchased. I blogged a little about this book recently.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home