To Deny the Right to Life, We Must Know When Life Begins
During his majority opinion during the Roe v Wade trial of 1973, Justice Harry Blackmun said,
“The judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to… resolve the difficult question of when life begins… since those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus.” (Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113. 1973)
In other words, since various religions, philosophers, and scientists were not been able to agree on when life begins, the court would not take a position on when life begins. To have made such a statement in 1973 was both historically and scientifically dishonest, and suggests that Blackmun was either woefully ignorant of advances in biology, or had other unscientific motivations for ruling as he did.
the right to life from our documentary film:
Is It True That Science Had No Consensus
on the Beginning of Human Life in 1973?
The simple answer is, no. Science had asserted since the 1860′s that human life at any stage of development was human, and that unborn children thus deserved all the rights and liberties of a natural born citizen. In the time between 1860 and 1973, scientific knowledge in biology and genetics exploded with new insights and discoveries, and they only served to more deeply and accurately confirm the life of an unborn child.
To demonstrate this, I’ll start start by examining the laws that were on the books in 1973 that the court called unconstitutional, and then look at the scientific discoveries that got those laws passed. From there, we’ll take a brief walk through the history of life science in the 20th century, enough to show that the Supreme Court of 1973 ruled in abject denial of the facts.
According to British Common Law, a fetus was considered living the moment a mother first felt the baby kick—a moment they called “quickening.” From that point on, the unborn baby was a human citizen of the nation of his/her parents, and heir to all of the protections and liberties afforded those citizens.
In the 1860′s, a movement was led by medical doctors(not religious enthusiasts) to take the common law a step futher. These doctors declared that that unborn children at any stage were human. In fact, as early as 1857, the American Medical Association stated, “the independent and actual existence of the child before birth as a living being is a matter of objective science.” As a result of this movement, laws were passed in all 50 states prohibiting abortions. These were the laws on the books that were challenged at a federal level in 1973 by the Roe v Wade and Doe v Bolton decisions.
What They Knew About Human Life Before 1973
Now, abortion supporters might argue that a scientific decision made in 1857 is primitive and untrustworthy, since we’ve made so much progress with technology in the past century, and in 1857 they didn’t have the instruments available to study life at its earliest stages. In 1857, they had no electricity; they weren’t even driving cars. But a cursory glance at the history of biology lays this criticism to rest. Not only was there enough knowledge in the 1860′s to drive doctors to call the human embryo a living human being, but the research that followed it for next hundred years only served to repeatedly confirm their decision.Here’s a very brief history of seminal discoveries in cellular biology, embryology, and genetics, ALL occurring before the Roe v Wade decision:
- 1651: Harvey promotes the existence of ova in humans.
- 1665: Hooke discovers the cell using a compound microscope while observing plant matter.
- 1785: Spallanzani performs the first artifical insemination using frog eggs.
- 1838: Schwann and Schleiden propose that the cell is the fundamental building block of living things.
- 1840: Roelliker discovers that sperm cells and egg cells are also cells.
- 1856: Pringsheim reveals how a sperm penetrates an egg.
- 1865: Mendel discovers that organisms inherit traits on pairs, one from each parent, some of which are dominant, some of which are recessive.
- 1876: Hertwig demonstrates fertilization for the first time.
- 1879-83: Flemming discovers chromosomes, describes their behavior during mitosis, and publishes the chromosome theory of heredity.
- 1892: Weismen publishes the theory that chromosomes contain the information responsible for the self-propelling development of embryos into fetuses.
- 1900: Karl Correns discovers that some gene pairs are neither dominant or recessive, but result in a new blended trait.
- 1902: Walter Sutton discovers the location of genetic material within the cell.
- 1929: Levene identifies the components on DNA and shows how they are connected.
- 1935: Spemann discovers embryonic induction — the process by which a zygote develops into a fetus.
- 1944: Oswald Avery demonstrates that genes are made up of DNA.
- 1953: Watson and Crick discover the double helix of the DNA molecule.
- 1957: Crick accurately predicts the relationship between DNA, RNA, proteins, and the concept of genetic sequencing.
- 1961: The genetic code is deciphered(Crick, Brenner, Nirenberg and Matthaei.)
Did you catch that final entry? They had already cracked the genetic code 12 years before Roe V Wade! They already knew that a human embryo contained a unique genetic signature, never to be repeated. They knew the embryo was self-propelling, containing all of the information it would need to grow into an adult human being. They knew the genetic information in the embryo was not the same as the genome of the mother–in other words, they knew that the embryo was not the mother’s body, since every cell in her body carries exclusively her own DNA.
The first court case to use DNA testing to condemn someone to death was in 1988. It’s ironic, isn’t it, that U.S. courts will admit the unique DNA signature of a criminal in order to condemn him to death, but won’t acknowledge the unique signature of unborn children in order to protect their lives?
The Testimony of the Embryology Textbooks of the Day
The Supreme Court clearly didn’t know their history, or else chose to deny it. The evidence that fertilization marks the beginning of human life was so overwhelming that it was already present in the embryology textbooks of the time:
- “… the culmination of the process of fertilization marks the initiation of the life of a new individual.” (Clark Edward Corliss, Patten’s Human Embryology: Elements of Clinical Development. New York: McGraw Hill, 1976. p. 30.)
- “The term conception refers to the union of the male and female pronuclear elements of procreation from which a new living being develops… The zygote thus formed represents the beginning of a new life.” (J.P. Greenhill and E.A. Friedman, Biological Principles and Modern Practice of Obstetrics. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders, 1974. pp. 17, 23.)
- “Every time a sperm cell and ovum unite a new being is created which is alive and will continue to live unless its death is brought about by some specific condition.” (E.L. Potter and J.M. Craig, Pathology of the Fetus and the Infant, 3rd edition. Chicago: Year Book Medical Publishers, 1975. p. vii.)
Where were these expert opinions during Roe V Wade and Doe V Bolton? If the laws being challenged state that from the earliest point, an unborn child is heir to all of the protections and liberties afforded to natural citizens, then the challengers should have been obligated to supply evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that a fetus is a non-living, non-human, non-person. But the court did just the opposite. The court chose to state that until it could be proved that a fetus was a living human person, they would have no rights under law.
And yet, even under the weight of this backwards and unfair disadvantage, the sad truth is that science already had proven this point.
The Testimony of Biology Experts to the U.S. Subcommittee in 1981
Only eight years after the Roe decision, a United States Senate judiciary subcommittee received testimony about the beginning of human life from top field biologists, gynecologists, obstetricians, embryologists, and genetecists, including:
- Professor Hymie Gordon (Mayo Clinic)
- Professor Micheline Matthews-Roth (Harvard University Medical School)
- Dr. Watson A. Bowes (University of Colorado Medical School)
- Dr. Ashley Montague (geneticist, professor at Harvard and Rutgers)
- Dr. Jerome LeJeune (professor of genetics at the University of Descartes in Paris. Discovered the chromosome pattern of Down Syndrome)
- Dr. Alfred M. Bongioanni (professor of pediatrics and obstetrics at the University of Pennsylvania)
- Dr. Landrum Shettles(attending obstetrician-gynecologist at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York. Pioneer in sperm biology, fertility, and sterility. Discovered male and female-producing sperm. His intrauterine photographs of preborn children appear in over fifty medical textbooks.)
This is no motley crew of closet pro-life activists. This is an internationally elite group of experts in genetics, embryology, and human biology. Here are a few tiny snippets of their testimony to the subcommittee:
- “It is incorrect to say that biological data cannot be decisive…It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception.” (Roth)
- “I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception.” (Bongioanni)
- “After fertilization has taken place a new human being has come into being. [It] is no longer a matter of taste or opinion… it is plain experimental evidence. Each individual has a very neat beginning, at conception.” (LeJeune)
- “By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception.” (Gordon)
- “The beginning of a single human life is from a biological point of view a simple and straightforward matter— the beginning is conception.” (Bowes)
The expert testimonies produced such an overwhelming consensus that the official Senate report reached this conclusion: “Physicians, biologists, and other scientists agree that conception marks the beginning of the life of a human being – a being that is alive and is a member of the human species. There is overwhelming agreement on this point in countless medical, biological, and scientific writings.”
The problem is that the center of the case for the Roe verdict was based on the assertion that there is no consensus for when human life begins, a center which did not hold then and holds even less now, as genetic evidence continues to mount in favor of the life of human embryos.
Ironically, modern pro-abortion writers do not try to defend their case as Blackmun did. They know better. In the next article, we will supply ample evidence direct from the mouths of informed, pro-abortion supporters that they know that abortion kills a living human being, and yet still find it justifiable. We will take a close look at the arguments they make for discriminating between living human beings who have rights, and living human beings who do not have rights. (Does that kind of talk remind you of anything?)
For more evidence directly form the mouths of experts in life sciences, first hand accounts from previous owners of abortion clinics, and direct testimony from women who have had abortions, order your copy of Blood Money Film today. It will change your life.