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Monday, August 10, 2015

Embryology facts: Science v. Fiction on When Life Begins

Faced with stomach-turning, videotaped evidence exposing the abortion industry's flagship Planned Parenthood harvesting for sale the body parts of developing babies, heart-hardened abortion apologists and even some embryonic stem cell research advocates have attempted to obscure the fact that these developing babies are, in fact, human.
In scientific terms, every human being begins as an embryo, who develops into a fetus, who develops into a baby.
While these terms are sometimes used (for financial and ideological purposes) to obscure the humanity of the developing baby, the scientific observation of of a human being from fertilization through birth reveals a seamless human development. At no stage can this human being ever veer off and develop into some other type of being. The complete DNA of every human being is present and complete at fertilization--the physical beginning of human life, when sperm and egg unite.
While such facts seem clear and even obvious to anyone with a conscience, those who have seared their consciences apparently remain stubbornly oblivious to this truth. They would deceive us in order to continue their killing and exploitation of developing babies.
The recent Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case upheld the right of a faith-based business to decline to obey the Obama administration's mandate that employers must subsidize the provision of embryo-killing drugs such as Ella and Plan B. Americans United for Life attorneys filed an amicus brief in that case on behalf of the Christian Medical Association and other pro-life organizations. The brief outlined the following scientific facts on human development--facts that inform the current debate over harvesting baby body parts and over legislation to ban late-term abortions.
From the amicus brief:

It is Undisputed that a New Human Organism is Created at Fertilization.
It is undisputed that a new, distinct human organism comes into existence during the process of fertilization.[i] Scientific literature states the following:
·         “The fusion of sperm and egg membranes initiates the life of a sexually reproducing organism.”[ii]
·         “The life cycle of mammals begins when a sperm enters an egg.”[iii]
·         “Fertilization is the process by which male and female haploid gametes (sperm and egg) unite to produce a genetically distinct individual.”[iv]
·         "The oviduct or Fallopian tube is the anatomical region where every new life begins in mammalian species. After a long journey, the spermatozoa meet the oocyte in the specific site of the oviduct named ampulla, and fertilization takes place."[v]
·         "Fertilization—the fusion of gametes to produce a new organism—is the culmination of a multitude of intricately regulated cellular processes."[vi]
The government’s own definition attests to the fact that life begins at fertilization. According to the National Institutes of Health, “fertilization” is the “process of union” of two gametes i.e., ovum and sperm) “whereby the somatic chromosome number is restored and the development of a new individual is initiated.”[vii] Thus, in the context of human life, a new individual human organism is initiated at the union of ovum and sperm.
One textbook similarly explains the following:
Human development begins at fertilization when a male gamete or sperm (spermatozoon) unites with a female gamete or oocyte (ovum) to produce a single cell—a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marked the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.[viii]
Thus, a new human organism is created before the developing embryo implants in the uterus—i.e., before that time at which some people consider a woman “pregnant.”
Defendants and their amici have at times tried to blur this distinct line with semantics about when “pregnancy” begins. Relying on a definition of pregnancy that begins at “implantation,” Defendants argue that “emergency contraceptives” are not “abortifacients.” However, this is a nonresponse to the concern that a drug or device can work after fertilization by blocking the implantation of a developing human embryo. Such drugs might not end a “pregnancy” under Defendants’ definition, but it does end the life of a unique human being. What Plaintiffs—and Amici—conscientiously oppose is not simply the ending of a “pregnancy,” but the ending of human life itself.
The information above is excerpted from an amicus brief filed in the Supreme Court of the United States:
Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, et al., Petitioners, v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., et al., Respondents, and  Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation, et al.,  Petitioners, v. Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, et al.,  Respondents.
On Writ of Certiorari  to the United States Courts of Appeals for the Third and Tenth Circuits
Amicus Curiae Brief of Drury Development Corporation, Drury Southwest, Inc., and Drury Hotels Company, LLC, with the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians & Gynecologists, Christian Medical Association, Catholic Medical Association, The National Catholic Bioethics Center, Physicians for Life, National Association of Pro Life Nurses, and National Association of Catholic Nurses in Support of [Plaintiffs]


Denise M. Burke

Mailee R. Smith

 Counsel of Record
Anna R. Franzonello

Mary E. Harned

[i] See, e.g., Condic, When Does Human Life Begin? A Scientific Perspective (The Westchester Institute for Ethics & the Human Person Oct. 2008),; George & Tollefsen, Embryo 39 (2008).
[ii] Marsden et al., Model systems for membrane fusion, Chem. Soc. Rev. 40(3):1572 (Mar. 2011) (emphasis added).
[iii] Okada et al., A role for the elongator complex in zygotic paternal genome demethylation, Nature 463:554 (Jan. 28, 2010) (emphasis added).
[iv] Signorelli et al., Kinases, phosphatases and proteases during sperm capacitation, Cell Tissue Res. 349(3):765 (Mar. 20, 2012) (emphasis added).
[v] Coy et al., Roles of the oviduct in mammalian fertilization, Reproduction 144(6):649 (Oct. 1, 2012) (emphasis added).
[vi] Marcello et al., Fertilization, Adv. Exp. Biol. 757:321 (2013) (emphasis added).
[vii] National Institutes of Health, Medline Plus Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary (2013), (emphasis added).
[viii] Moore & Persaud, The Developing Human 16 (7th ed. 2003) (emphasis added).

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