Advancing The Sanctity Of Human Life On Capitol Hill

SANCTITY OF HUMAN LIFE


When Does Human Life Begin?

The fact that human life begins at conception has been confirmed by medical professionals for years. A 2014 research brief on the scientific view of when life begins, published by the Charlotte Lozier Institute stated: “Human embryos from the one-cell (zygote) stage forward show uniquely integrated, organismal behavior that is unlike the behavior of mere human cells. The zygote produces increasingly complex tissues, structures and organs that work together in a coordinated way.  Importantly, the cells, tissues and organs produced during development do not somehow ‘generate’ the embryo (as if there were some unseen, mysterious ‘manufacturer’ directing this process), they are produced by the embryo as it directs its own development to more mature stages of human life.  This organized, coordinated behavior of the embryo is the defining characteristic of a human organism.”

The research brief concluded in no uncertain terms: “The conclusion that human life begins at sperm-egg fusion is uncontested, objective, based on the universally accepted scientific method of distinguishing different cell types from each other and on ample scientific evidence (thousands of independent, peer-reviewed publications). Moreover, it is entirely independent of any specific ethical, moral, political, or religious view of human life or of human embryos.”

Another study published in March 2017 by the American College of Pediatricians stated: “The predominance of human biological research confirms that human life begins at conception—fertilization.  At fertilization, the human being emerges as a whole, genetically distinct, individuated zygotic living human organism, a member of the species Homo sapiens, needing only the proper environment in order to grow and develop. The difference between the individual in its adult stage and in its zygotic stage is one of form, not nature.”

The study further noted that in 1965, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology attempted to redefine conception to mean implantation as opposed to the previous understanding that it becomes a life at the point of fertilization.

A recent five-year research study has revealed that an overwhelming majority of biologists from 1,058 academic institutions confirm that “a human’s life begins at fertilization.” Steven Jacobs was a University of Chicago Ph.D. candidate who recently successfully defended his dissertation, “Balancing Abortion Rights and Fetal Rights: A Mixed Methods Mediation of the U.S. Abortion Debate.” For his research, Jacobs recruited 5,502 academic biologists to participate in his thesis study, “Biologists’ Consensus on ‘When Life Begins.’” The biologists identified themselves as “very pro-choice, very pro-life, very liberal, very conservative, strong Democrats and strong Republicans.”

After five years, the research showed that 95 percent (5212 out of 5502) of the biologists affirmed the biological view that a human’s life begins at fertilization, revealing that biology professors in American academia overwhelmingly agree with this pro-life position.

During the survey, Jacobs asked the biologists to agree or disagree with two “implicit statements:”

1) “The end product of mammalian fertilization is a fertilized egg (‘zygote’), a new mammalian organism in the first stage of its species’ life cycle with its species’ genome.”

- Approximately 90 percent agreed the development of a mammal begins at the moment of fertilization.

2) “The development of a mammal begins with fertilization, a process by which the spermatozoon from the male and the oocyte from the female unite to give rise to a new organism, the zygote.”

- More than 75 percent agreed that fertilization marks the beginning of a human’s life.
Then the participants were given an open-ended essay question and asked to answer, “from a biological perspective,” the question “When does a human’s life begin?”

- Ninety percent of biologists who described themselves as “very pro-life” said at the moment of fertilization; Almost 75 percent of those who called themselves “pro-choice,” and approximately 60 percent of those who identified themselves as “very pro-choice,” answered the same.

When Jacobs began his research about the American abortion debate for a qualitative research class, he surveyed 2,899 American adults and discovered that a large majority of respondents believe that the question “When does a human’s life begin?” is important to the discussion. The poll also revealed that 81 percent of respondents, including a larger share of pro-abortion individuals, “selected biologists as the group most qualified to determine when a human’s life begins.”

Jacobs’ research also suggests that 83 percent of “pro-choice” participants surveyed believe that support for legal abortion would decrease “if it became common knowledge that fetuses are biological humans at fertilization.”