The Pro-Choicers’ Cheapest Trick, Pulled by Wired Magazine
Science doesn’t tell us anything about when a human life begins, insists Wired magazine, even though pro-lifers keep saying it does. “Why Science Can’t Tell Us When a Baby’s Life Begins” opens with the story of a scientist at one of America’s most elite colleges reacting to a poster’s claims that science knows when human life starts.
A professor there, Scott Gilbert, saw a poster put up by a campus religious group. It said that “Philosophers and theologians have argued for centuries about when personhood begins But scientists know when it begins. It begins at fertilization.” A developmental biologist, he didn’t like the claim that scientists know when life begins. “I couldn’t say when personhood begins, but I can say with absolute certainty scientists don’t have a consensus,” he said.
Imagine the sound of screeching tires as the driver slams on the brakes at 120 miles per hour. That would be my reaction after reading the headline and then that first paragraph.
The Basic Pro-Choice Trick
Developmental biologist Dr. Scott Gilbert has just pulled one of the pro-choice movement’s basic tricks, one they pull all the time. I will bet you 98% of its readers didn’t spot the trick. I’ll be you they finished reading the article thinking those science-invoking pro-lifers had been put in their place. Trying to use science to push your religion, eh? Well, the scientists slapped you down.
What is the trick? The speaker switches from the question of human life to the question of human personhood without admitting it. He wants to win an argument he’s going to lose by changing the subject.
On the first question, the pro-choicers are really vulnerable. The obvious answer (that the embryo’s a human life) undermines their arguments for abortion. It’s a hard fact to get around.
On the second, they’re not as vulnerable. They can find some wiggle room in the philosophical debates over what makes up a human person. People do disagree about this. They can throw up their hands and argue that since no one agrees about personhood, we must make abortion legal and leave the choice to the woman (as indeed a scientist quoted in the article does).
So faced with a fact they can’t refute and a theory they can argue about, they confuse the two. They a) speak of the second as if they were speaking of the first and b) offer a believable answer for the second that people will think answers the first. Most of us will read the answer, see that it makes sense, and think that they’ve proved their point.
Scientists and Philosophers
Science can’t say when that being in the womb becomes a human person. That’s the kind of thing philosophers and theologians have to argue about. But it can tell us when human life begins. There’s not really any scientific doubt on the matter, and the article itself gives us no reason to doubt it, no reason whatsoever, despite the title.
The article talks about fertilization, implantation, twinning, and “the changing threshold of viability” — none of which address the question of when human life begins. The first only answers the question of when the human life begins. The others only address the challenges the unborn child faces as he grows. They don’t change the fact that he is a human being.
All this scientific talk is just smoke to hide the fact they don’t want anyone to see. The fact is very simple: That child, from the moment of fertilization, is a human being, therefore human life begins at fertilization. The kids who put up the poster were right and their professor wrong.
And Science jolly well knows that. That “fertilized egg” is a unique creature with a human genetic code. If left alone, he will grow into a creature everyone will recognize as a human being. He’ll grow into someone just like you and me, and like Professor Gilbert. That embryo cannot possibly be anything else but human. If it were sitting in a dish in a lab with other primate embryos, the scientists themselves would say, “That’s the human embryo over there on table three.”
The Argument Makes Sense
Since that embryo is a human being, it deserves all the protections we give a human being. You shouldn’t kill me, because I’m a human being with a right to life; and for the same reason neither of us should kill the unborn human being.
The argument makes sense to the average person. That’s the reason the pro-choicers do whatever they can to keep people from hearing it. And they have one cheap but effective trick to hide the argument, a trick they don’t want you to know.