Everyone Agrees that Life Begins at Conceptionc, by Thomas Ascik

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By Thomas Ascik, Crisis Magazine, February 28, 2019

I can’t find anyone—including Planned Parenthood and the pro-abortion media—who disagrees about what science has to say about the beginning of human life.

What, you say that the March for Life caused the publishing of several public statements and articles that lambasted the “junk” and “debunked” science of pro-lifers and offered “existing science” as a substitute?

The March did proclaim as its 2019 theme that “pro-life is pro-science” and that humans are “unique from day one.” To counter “the only tenable argument” for abortion that “the unborn are not living human beings,” the March said that “none of the scientific evidence about the beginning of life supports the idea that life begins at any other time than fertilization.”

Now, let’s take a look at who said what about the “science” of life. Harper’s Bazaar headlined “Anti-Abortion Activists Are Still Defending Forced Birth with Debunked Science.” Against the “pseudo-science” of “anti-choice activists,” the article cited the authority of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) that “fetuses” do not feel pain before 24 weeks. That was the extent of the debunking of the science of the “anti-abortionists.” Of course, the ability to feel pain is not a definition of anything except the ability to feel pain. Persons who are anesthetized or stupefied on drugs or alcohol may not feel pain either. Overall, despite its aggressive headline, the Harper’s article made no effort to address the science about the fundamental reality of the humanity of the unborn child.

The Harper’s article is not the only one to cite ACOG to defend the pro-abortion position. I have made a diligent search of ACOG’s website and been unable to discover any statement or explanation of when human life begins. With the extra publicity generated by this year’s March for Life and President Trump’s open pro-life advocacy, one might have expected ACOG to make public statements debunking that part of “junk science.” It did not.

A search of Planned Parenthood’s website reveals the same result. A page on that site entitled, “what facts about abortion do I need to know?” is solely about abortion procedures.

In a since-deleted article, reprinted in a Spokane, WA, newspaper, the Washington Post changes the subject and gives up right in its headline: “The March for Life says it’s ‘pro-science,’ despite medical consensus favoring abortion access.” So, it turns out that “access,” not definition, is what science is about. Following up on the headline, the article offers the status and stature of “the medical establishment” as itself a refutation of the pro-life position. Who’s who in the “medical establishment” is what science is about.

The Post quotes a representative of ACOG who states that there are miscarriages and other reasons that fertilized eggs do not implant. She says that “science isn’t really designed to answer questions about the exact beginning of life” and then quickly changes the subject to assert that science does not deal with “the moral assignations of these sorts of things.” After pointing out that the pro-life American College of Pediatricians is small compared to the more recognized American Academy of Pediatrics, the writer extensively quotes that latter group on the importance of abortion access. Overall, ACOG’s view of science is that it tells us how to perform safe abortions. I have attempted a similar search of the pro-abortion American Academy of Pediatrics website and been unable to discover any statement or analysis of when human life begins.

In the New York Times, law professor Mary Ziegler cites ACOG and other “elite scientific organizations” to prove that the March for Life’s positions “fly in the face of the evidence.”  But nowhere in the article does she describe or deal with any such evidence that might refute the March for Life.

To the March for Life’s “co-opting of science,” its theme of “unique from day one,” and its “extreme” position that life begins at conception,” Rewire.News, in an article that was widely reposted elsewhere, countered with “real science—the science backed by evidence and supported by experts.” Rewired retorts that all abortions are safe, that abortion does not cause mental or physical problems for the mother, that a fetus cannot feel pain, that heartbeat bans are unconstitutional, and fetal tissue has led to important medical advances.  Any attempt in the article to have the referenced “experts” refute that “uniqueness” from the moment of conception? No.

In answer to the March for Life’s contention that “life begins at conception,” the website Broadly says that “doctors have a different view of how science relates to their work.” Indeed they do. Statnews tells us that “science says otherwise” to the contention of the March for Life that “pro-life is pro-science.” Dr. Sandy Horvath of ACOG is quoted as asserting “I think that all scientists consider themselves very pro-life. We believe very strongly in supporting the woman in front of us, and making sure she lives her longest, best life.” Science, you see, is an attitude. It’s a matter of self-regard.

In none of these articles or organizations is a bona-fide scientist quoted or referred to. And let’s recognize that doctors are practitioners, not scientists. They deal with how things work, not what they are. They are just mechanics. And according to those doctors who favor abortion, “science” is just a useful means to an already decided end. From the empyrean heights of the moneyed and powerful “medical establishment,” any opponents are peddlers of “junk.” They can be disposed of by calling them names.

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