I love science.
In fact, I’m a science teacher by training and have had the privilege of teaching science to hundreds of students.
One of the reasons I’m against abortion is because of science. Specifically, the science of embryology has firmly established that human life begins at conception. This is a scientific fact. Therefore, abortion—at any stage of development—kills a human being.
Anyone with a basic understanding of biology should know this. Unfortunately, there are many people today spouting anti-scientific misinformation to aid their agenda.
For example, CNN’s Chris Cuomo recently moderated a spirited conversation over so-called “heartbeat bills”—legislation that prohibits abortion once the fetal heartbeat can be detected—between Christine Quinn, a former Democratic politician, and Rick Santorum, a former Republican politician.
During the discussion, Quinn confidently claimed something that left me stunned. In fact, what she stated was so utterly ridiculous that I thought I must have misheard her. But I hadn’t misheard her. She really said it. Not only that, it looked like she really believed what she said.
Here’s what she said: “When a woman gets pregnant, that is not a human being inside of her.”
This statement would be laughable if the consequences of such a statement weren’t so lethal. Ideas have consequences, and bad ideas have victims. And the false idea that pregnant women are not carrying distinct human beings inside them has helped justify the killing of approximately 3,000 human beings a day in the U.S.
Quinn is not an uneducated woman. She graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. She also served as the speaker of the New York City Council. These are impressive bona fides. This leads me to believe she is either intentionally deceiving others, or she’s been deceived herself. Not wanting to attribute bad motives, I’ll assume it’s the latter.
It was also interesting that Cuomo didn’t jump in to correct Quinn. In fact, he seemed to double down on her statement in a tweet after the interview. Chris Cuomo tweeted, “[T]he pro-life position is more about faith and feeling than facts.”
Cuomo has it exactly backwards. It’s the pro-life argument that rests on facts, while it’s the abortion advocate who consistently ignores facts and appeals to feelings. Let me show you.
Is it a fact that what’s inside a pregnant woman is not a human being? Not according to the leading anatomists in the world.
The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology is a human development textbook written for medical students. In the book, anatomists Keith Moore, T. V. N. Persaud, and Mark Torchia state:
Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm (spermatozoon development) 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.1
Describing the history of genetics and human development, they also state, “It was soon realized that the zygote contains all the genetic information necessary for directing the development of a new human being.”2
So, according to Quinn, “that is not a human being” inside a pregnant woman. Yet, according to three leading anatomists, human development begins at fertilization when a zygote is formed. This is the beginning of each new human being.
Of course, this isn’t the only embryology textbook to make this claim. The opening words of chapter two in Langman’s Medical Embryology textbook state, “Development begins with fertilization, the process by which the male gamete, the sperm, and the female gamete, the oocyte, unite to give rise to a zygote.”3
In the textbook titled Before We Are Born: Essentials of Embryology and Birth Defects, it says, “Embryology is concerned with the origin and development of a human being from zygote to birth.”4
Furthermore, in a section titled “Answers to Clinically Oriented Questions” near the end of the book, the authors state, “There are different opinions of when an embryo becomes a human being because opinions are often affected by religious and personal views. The scientific answer is that the embryo is a human being from the time of fertilization because of its human chromosomal constitution. The zygote is the beginning of a developing human.”5
Many more science textbooks could easily be cited, but this is enough to show that the science supports the pro-life position: A new human being begins at fertilization.
Even well known Princeton University bioethicist and abortion advocate Peter Singer agrees that abortion kills a human being. In his book Practical Ethics, he writes,
It is possible to give ‘human being’ a precise meaning. We can use it as equivalent to ‘member of the species Homo sapiens’. Whether a being is a member of a given species is something that can be determined scientifically, by an examination of the nature of the chromosomes in the cells of living organisms. In this sense there is no doubt that from the first moments of its existence, an embryo conceived from human sperm and eggs is a human being.6
Science is clear. However, my worry is that many will watch this CNN segment and mistake Quinn’s sincerity for veracity, her boldness for truthfulness. Make no mistake, anyone who claims that the unborn is not a human being is terribly wrong.