Science and Abortion: The Scientific Basis for a Prolife Position
by Rich Deem

Introduction

Is the fetus human?

It is commonly claimed in pro-abortion arguments that one cannot determine when human life begins. Does science address the beginning of human life? If so, what does it say?

Rich Deem

Does science have anything to say about abortion? Those who have taken embryology know full well the answer to this question. If you examine pro-choice arguments for abortion, you will find the proponents using such terms as "tissue" and "grams of material" (a weight). What they do not like to discuss is what that "tissue" consists of. In fact, the preborn human fetus is genetically a fully human being at the point of conception. As you will learn below, the aborted fetus is not just a "blob of tissue." Warning: some of the descriptions below are graphic and upsetting to most people. Do not continue if you are unwilling to suffer some emotional trauma.

Stages of human development

Contrary to what many non-scientists believe, human beings are not constructed in the womb - they develop. In fact, all the major organ systems are initiated within the first few weeks after conception. The process of embryonic development is a continuous process, with no obvious point at which the fetus magically becomes a "person." In fact, the development process continues well after birth, including many characteristics that determine our personality or personhood. What are the stages in human embryonic development? Science tells us that the heart of the human fetus begins to form 18 days after conception.1 There is a measurable heart beat 21-24 days after conception.2 This is only 7-10 days after a women would expect to begin her menses. Since most women have cycles that can vary by this amount, they do not discover they are pregnant until after this point. Therefore, all abortions stop a beating heart, even "early" abortions. However, most abortions do not occur until 4-6 weeks after the fetus begins to form. The human brain begins to form on day 233 is formed enough to produce brain waves by 6 weeks, which means that most abortions destroy a functioning human brain.

What do embryology books have to say about human development?

Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice ArgumentsThe Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology4 (pp 2-18): "Zygote: this cell results from the union of an oocyte and a sperm. A zygote is the beginning of a new human being (i.e., an embryo). Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm ... unites with a female gamete or oocyte ... to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual."

Essentials of Human Embryology5 (pp. 1-17): "In this text, we begin our description of the developing human with the formation and differentiation of the male and female sex cells or gametes, which will unite at fertilization to initiate the embryonic development of a new individual. ... Fertilization takes place in the oviduct ... resulting in the formation of a zygote containing a single diploid nucleus. Embryonic development is considered to begin at this point... This moment of zygote formation may be taken as the beginning or zero time point of embryonic development."

Human Embryology & Teratology6 (pp. 5-55): "Fertilization is an important landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is thereby formed... Fertilization is the procession of events that begins when a spermatozoon makes contact with a secondary oocyte or its investments...  The zygote ... is a unicellular embryo... "The ill-defined and inaccurate term pre-embryo, which includes the embryonic disc, is said either to end with the appearance of the primitive streak or ... to include neurulation. The term is not used in this book." (p. 55)."

What does this "lump of tissue" look like?

So, what do doctors find when they do abortions? A lump of tissue? An amorphous blob? Below is a description of what the abortionist must look for to make sure that he has removed the entire fetus: Dr. David Brewer, a former abortionist described his first encounter with abortion, while training at a clinic. He recalled going to a clinic "to learn about abortion. After all, abortion was just applying the technique of a D&C to a woman who was in a little different stage - she was pregnant." And so the young resident did as he was told: He watched the material come down the plastic tube and emptied the reddish contents of the little bag onto a blue towel - to make sure the doctor had gotten it all:

"I opened the sock up and I put it on the towel and there were parts in there of a person. I'd taken anatomy; I was a medical student. I knew what I was looking at. There was a little scapula [shoulder blade] and there was an arm, and I saw some ribs and a chest, and I saw a little tiny head, and I saw a piece of a leg, and I saw a tiny hand. ... I checked it out and there were two arms and two legs and one head, etc., and I turned and said, I guess you got it all ... It was pretty awful that first time... it was like somebody put a hot poker into me."

If women (and their male sexual partners) had to examine the results of their abortions,7 there would be a lot fewer abortions in the world. As long as the fetus is just a "blob of tissue" abortion will continue to be widely practiced. This is why abortion advocates oppose any attempts to provide women with scientific, unbiased information on fetal development. Ignorance is bliss. Feticide is legal.

What do abortionists say about what is aborted?

Many abortionists readily admit that abortion is the killing of a living being. Here are a few examples:

Conclusion Top of page

The science of embryology tells us that human beings develop rapidly after fertilization of the egg. In fact, since the heart of the fetus begins to beat by 24 days, virtually all abortions (other than "emergency contraception") stop a beating heart. In fact, since most abortion occur between 4-6 weeks, they also destroy a functioning brain. Even modern embryology textbooks agree that human life begins at conception. Since abortion ends human life, one must ask the question whether abortion is justifiable homicide or murder.


Pictures of aborted fetuses: (view at your own risk!)



References Top of page

The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology
  1. Heart Development at the Loyola University Chicago web site
  2. "Life Before Birth" Life Magazine Educational Reprint 27, April 30, 1965, page 6.
    and Week 4 at the Loyola University Chicago web site
  3. Brain development slideshow at Temple University
  4. Essentials of Human EmbryologyMoore, K. and T.V.N. Persaud. 1998. The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology (6th ed.), W.B. Saunders Company,  Philadelphia.
  5. Larsen, W.J. 1998. Essentials of Human Embryology, Churchill Livingstone, New York.
  6. O'Rahilly, R. and F. Muller. 1996. Human Embryology & Teratology, Wiley-Liss, New York.
  7. Human Embryology & TeratologyTestimonies of women who have had abortions:
    I had a quick sonogram and then received a shot of methrotrexate. This is a drug that is used for cancer treatment, it stops cell growth. After the shot, I came home... I went to bed that evening around 9 p.m. I used the suppositories as soon as I went to bed. I remember feeling the contractions start about half an hour later. In the beginning, they were mild, but within an hour the pain was severe. I continued contracting and bleeding most of the night. Around three in the morning, I went to the bathroom. I had been passing a lot of clots most of the evening. I assumed that the pain and pressure I was feeling was from more clots. When I stood up, I noticed that the pain and the pressure was not from clots, but from passing the placenta. When I looked in the commode, I saw laying in the center of the placenta my baby. I saw the baby's perfectly formed hands, the little fingers. I remember the scream that came from my mouth... [from a 7 week abortion] (I used to be Pro-choice...But...)
  8. Abortion Providers Quotes on Whether Abortion is Killing from www.clinicquotes.com.

http://godandscience.org/doctrine/scienceabortion.html
Last Modified July 23, 2007

 

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