In Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein said:
“I had worked hard for nearly two years for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body”. But when he witnessed the first signs of life in his creation: “the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart”.
If you are in the pro-life movement at the moment, you will know that there has been a buzz of information flying across the country regarding Mr. Stephen Woodworth’s motion to discuss in part;
“what medical evidence exists to demonstrate that a child is or is not a human being before the moment of birth ” and “is the preponderance of medical evidence consistent with the declaration in Subsection 223(1) that a child is only a human being at the moment of complete birth?”
Mr. Brad Trost’s petition is also being circulated with the following intent, “Therefore your petitioners call upon Parliament to open up a respectful dialogue on abortion in an effort to determine what sort of protection should be granted to children before they are born.”
ARPA is redistributing an older petition calling on government to “restrict abortion to the greatest extent possible” while at the same time asking in another petition that Section 223 to be amended to “reflect twenty first century medical evidence.
In Canada, a radical pro-choice lobby, unlike Frankenstein’s effort to infuse life into an inanimate body, has worked for the sole purpose of emptying life from an animate body (the child in the womb). It has been successful in making people believe that somehow what becomes a human being outside the womb is anything but, while inside the womb.
Finally we may have an opportunity to focus our country and it’s citizens on the tiniest member of our human family and I am afraid like Frankenstein, that the beauty of our Canadian dream may vanish and we will be left with breathless horror and disgust, if we do not continue to stand in the gap for each and every human life! If we do not ask questions that go to the very core of our call for justice for those not yet born.
There is a tremendous consensus in the scientific community about when life begins. This is hardly controversial. If the claim were made that life was discovered on another planet, for example, there are well-defined criteria to which we could refer to conclusively determine whether the claim was accurate.
How do scientists distinguish between life and non-life? A scientific textbook called “Basics of Biology” gives five characteristics of living things; these five criteria are found in all modern elementary scientific textbooks:
1. Living things are highly organized.
2. All living things have an ability to acquire materials and energy.
3. All living things have an ability to respond to their environment.
4. All living things have an ability to reproduce.
5. All living things have an ability to adapt.
According to this elementary definition of life, life begins at fertilization, when a sperm unites with an oocyte. From this moment, the being is highly organized, has the ability to acquire materials and energy, has the ability to respond to his or her environment, has the ability to adapt, and has the ability to reproduce (the cells divide, then divide again, etc., and barring pathology and pending reproductive maturity has the potential to reproduce other members of the species).
Non-living things do not do these things. Even before the mother is aware that she is pregnant, a distinct, unique life has begun his or her existence inside her.
Furthermore, that life is unquestionably human. A human being is a member of the species homo sapiens. Human beings are products of conception, which is when a human male sperm unites with a human female oocyte (egg). When humans procreate, they don’t make non-humans like slugs, monkeys, cactuses, bacteria, or any such thing. Emperically-verifiable proof is as close as your nearest abortion clinic: send a sample of an aborted fetus to a laboratory and have them test the DNA to see if its human or not. Genetically, a new human being comes into existence from the earliest moment of conception.
“I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly, I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy.” Hippocrates, 400 B.C., Greece
Biologically, from the moment of conception this new human being is not a part of the mother’s body. Since when does a mother’s body have male genitals, two brains, and four kidneys? The preborn human being may be dependent upon the mother for nutrition, however, this does not diminish his or her humanity, but proves it. Moreover, dependence upon a parent for survival is not a capital crime.
“To accept the fact that after fertilization has taken place a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion … it is plain experimental evidence.” The “Father of Modern Genetics,” Dr. Jerome Lejeune, Univ. of Descarte, Paris
At the average time when a woman is aware that she is pregnant (the fifth to sixth week after conception), the preborn human being living inside her is metabolizing nutrition, excreting waste, moving, sucking his or her thumb, growing, and doing many other things that non-living things just do not do. As early as 21 days after conception, the baby’s heart has begun to beat his or her own unique blood-type, often different than the mother’s. (Moore & Persaud, The Developing Human, p.310; Nilsson & Hamberger, A Child is Born, p.86; Rugh & Shettles, From Conception to Birth, p.217.) At 40 days after conception, brain waves can be read on an EEG, or an electroencephalogram. (Dr. H. Hamlin, Life or Death by EEG, JAMA, Oct.12, 1964, p.113.)
“By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception.” Dr. Hymie Gordon, Chairman, Department of Genetics at the Mayo Clinic
Medical science already refers to a spontaneous heart rhythm and the presence of brain waves to determine whether someone is alive at the other spectrum of human existence. In simplistic terms, if an organ donor is in an automobile accident and is on life support in a hospital, the physician cannot “pull the plug” and donate the patient’s organs to others unless the patient is “brain dead” and his heart is not beating on its own.
If the medical community maintained consistency with this generally-accepted medical definition of human life, then we would condemn every abortion after the time when the average woman discovers she is pregnant. Every abortion, by the generally accepted standards of medical science, aborts an innocent human life.
One of the most amazing photographs I have ever seen is of a surgery being performed on a 21 week-old fetus named Samuel Armas. The boy is having surgery performed in utero for his spina bifida. In the photograph, the unconscious boy’s hand is poking through the surgical incision in the uterus and is resting on the finger of the surgeon. You can see the photo at http://www.michaelclancy.com/. The picture paints a thousand words that my mere words cannot match, but allow me to draw attention to the obvious fact that the surgeon is performing surgery on one living human being who is residing in the womb of another living human being. “Yeah,” the pro-choice attorney rebuts, “but is it a person?”
In Roe vs. Wade, Justice Harry Blackmun noted, “The appellee and certain amici argue that the fetus is a ‘person’ within the language and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment. In support of this, they outline at length and in detail the well-known facts of fetal development. If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant’s case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the (Fourteenth) Amendment.”
According to Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, a person is “a human being.” [Oxford Canadian Dictionary of the English Language ” defines a person as “an individual human being”] Attempts to render an entire class of human beings as “non-persons” based upon arbitrary qualities such as age and place of residence in order to discriminate against them is immoral and unjust. History is full of infamous examples of governments legalizing the discrimination of an entire class of human beings by rendering them “non-persons.” Jews were rendered “sub-humans” in Germany in the 1940’s and colonial slave-owners bought and sold Africans as “property.”
As a matter of fact, the Supreme Court in 1857 ruled that Dred Scott, a black slave, was not a “person” with rights but the “property” of his master. Was the Court wrong then? Of course! The Supreme Court of 1973 that legalized abortion nationwide with its Roe v. Wade decision was just as immoral and unjust. They dehumanized an entire class of human beings in order to legitimize wholesale discrimination against them. Abortion may go down in history as the greatest human rights abuse of all time.
As our nation’s founding documents make clear, the right to life is God-given and inalienable. The right to live cannot be legitimately usurped by men. No man, no government has the right to deprive one of life or liberty without a trial by jury, regardless of skin color, age, stage of development, level of dependence upon others for survival, or place of residence.
Abortion results in the death of an innocent human being. It is immoral and unjust when evaluated in the light of the law of the land (our founding documents) and the divine commandment that forbids taking the life of an innocent human being (Exodus 20:13). http://prolifephysicians.org/lifebegins.htm
IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER
If we use medical science/ medical evidence as part of our argument, “Medical science already refers to a spontaneous heart rhythm and the presence of brain waves to determine whether someone is alive at the other spectrum of human existence…If the medical community maintained consistency with this generally-accepted medical definition of human life, then we would condemn every abortion after the time when the average woman discovers she is pregnant.”
By the fifth to sixth week after conception, the preborn human being is metabolizing nutrition, excreting waste, moving, sucking his or her thumb, growing, and doing many other things that non-living things just do not do. Would we support excluding this child from legal protection
Why can’t we ask for legal protection from the start?
Should medical evidence, medical science, medical advances be used to define when human life begins or are we looking at the wrong science?
In a February 8th 2012 article “It is time to be mature about when human life begins” which ran in the Calgary Herald, Naomi Lakritz stated,
“To know when a fetus might be considered to be human among all that brain growth – the second trimester when layers begin to be differentiated in the cerebral cortex?- would benefit both pro-life and pro-choice sides. Wouldn’t the latter want to know if a fetus at 16 weeks, for example, can be considered a person so they could urge women seeking abortions to have them performed long before that time?…… Abortion isn’t going to go away, unfortunately. The best we can hope for is that it gets legally limited by gestational age…”
What is your answer to Ms Lakritz?
- Is it possible that in Canada we may not all have the same answer?
- Does she really not understand what we believe – do we?
- Is a law based on gestational law the best we can hope for?
- Is the law based on gestational age what we will support or even settle for?
- Is a law based on anything short of full protection a just law?
Public Opinion Polls
People have varying beliefs regarding when human life begins, at fertilization, when there is a heartbeat, when brainwaves are detected, when self-awareness is evident, when pain can be felt, after birth. But none of this means a thing! It just shows how ignorant people are of human development and the continuum of life.
“People might say this or that is when life begins, but that doesn’t necessarily confer legal rights on that entity”
Thomas Elliot Reproductive Biology Associates.
When human life begins is not a matter of personal opinion or poll results -it is a matter of human developmental science and embryology. Citizens may be asked whether they value early human life enough to protect it but to ask for an opinion based on flawed or unsound knowledge is reprehensible. It does not matter what people think – only the facts matter!
- Would we settle for “legislation that restricts abortion to the greatest extent possible”?
- What does “greatest extent” mean?
- Are we true to our Canadian principles by accepting certain incremental legislative efforts?
- What can we accept and why? What makes the difference?
- We are told this is all we can hope for-why?
During the Clinton and Bush administrations two US panels were set up to look at when human life begins and neither one included an embryologist. No embryologist was called to present before these commissions and yet this is the science we in Canada should be consulting. This is the evidence that should be provided to all Canadians to support why we must extend legal protection of life to every human being even when we exclude them because they are not yet born.
In Canada are we afraid to demand full protection for every human life regardless of the place of residence?
- Do we believe that public opinion polls and medical advances or medical evidence, none of which is pertinent to the real question, should be the sole reference for this discussion?
- Do we believe that a human being is ever not a human being or not quite a human being?
- Do we believe that there are other arbitrary lines we should draw to define human beings?
- Does the developing human being order its own days?
- Is the child before birth a real human being?
- Is there a difference between some proposed legislative initiatives and others?
- How on earth do we tell the difference?
Afraid to fail and apparently minus successes
Will we accept anything? I believe that the next few months will be the best of times and the worst of times in Canada. It will be a time of differences in opinion, strategy, soul searching and most probably heartache but I know that in the end “Life” will prevail. We have worked together closely or at a distance for years in many different areas of our country to craft this great mantle of protection for our children before birth. The discussion, which I know will accompany these latest efforts, will serve to strengthen our objectivity and our resolve. However, we must ask and answer the hard questions. We must not blindly follow every single initiative that is proposed without in-depth and comprehensive discussion. The Alliance for Life Ontario board has agreed to serve it’s community by hosting several workshops on pro-life strategies in March 2012, details will be sent to all member groups and to anyone who might be interested. These are conversations worth having if we are not, with Frankenstein, to hold our heads and say,
“The beauty of my dream has vanished and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart”.