A plea for objective facts

As someone with degrees in theology and biology, I smile at the worn-out rhetoric of the anti-life movement. But my smile is a sad one. You can find two such rhetorical dinosaurs in the AP article, Iowa court blocks 72-hour waiting period for abortion in the July 2 edition of the T-R.

First, the majority justices write, “At stake in this case is the right to shape, for oneself, without unwarranted governmental intrusion, one’s own identity, destiny and place in the world.” This ignores the fact that there is someone else who should have the right to shape his or her “own identity, destiny and place in the world.” I do not need my Bible for this. It is a biological fact. This “someone else,” from the moment of fertilization, is a completely separate, self-directed human life. This new life snuggles into the uterine wall and produces his or her own umbilical cord and placenta. Mom just provides a place for this completely separate little body to grow.

The second worn-out and scientifically unenlightened statement is this: “We do not, and could not, endeavor to discern the precise moment when a human being comes into existence. We have great respect for the sincerity of those with deeply held beliefs on either side of the issue.” When a human being comes into existence is NOT a matter of “deeply held beliefs.” It is a matter of fact. We teach this fact in medical schools. Here is a quote from a medical school embryology textbook:

“Human life begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm (spermatozoa) 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.” “A zygote is the beginning of a new human being (i.e., an embryo).”

(Keith L. Moore, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 7th edition. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 2003. pp. 16, 2.)

I have forty other such quotes from medical school text books or well-respected, peer-reviewed scientific journals.

If we are going to debate whether a waiting period before an abortion is a good thing or not, I plead with those on both sides, let’s do so based on objective science and not on subjective non-scientific talking points.