Planned Parenthood’s Arrogant War On Science: Not Knowing When Life Begins

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 5, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Planned Parenthood’s Arrogant War On Science: Not Knowing When Life Begins

by David Schmidt
December 5, 2009 Note: David Schmidt is the CFO and Media Director for Life Action, the pro-life group best known for exposing sexual abuse coverup at Planned Parenthood. David is a human rights activist who specializes in grassroots organizing with an emphasis on web technology and reaching today’s youth.

While science cannot answer questions of morality or ethics, it can tell us many facts about the world we live in. Stubbornly, abortion organizations like Planned Parenthood have a hard time accepting basic scientific facts that don’t square with their ideology.

I was reminded of this as I read over a statement from earlier this year (you can view it here) by Tony Thornton, the President of Planned Parenthood in Lubbock, Texas.

He said: “Whenever the fetus reaches the stage of viability and is actually born. Then, that’s when I believe life begins.”

Notice how nuanced and scientifically inaccurate this statement is. Let me break it down:

He says that being born isn’t enough to be living, you must all reach “viability”. This means that if you are a 20 week old fetus with under-developed lungs and a life-expectancy of hours, you aren’t living according to Thornton.

Second, he says if you reach “viability”, which based on current medical technology starts at 21.5 weeks, but are not yet born then you are not living.

Viability is based on medical technology. A viable 22 week baby today was not a viable baby 30 years ago. A viable baby in the United States may not be viable Africa. This leads us to the insane conclusion that the definition of life changes based on when and where a human fetus exists.

In fact, implicit in this statement is the belief that whether you are living has little to do with you and everything to do with where you live. Live in a womb and you are not alive, live outside a womb and you are a person with rights.

Finally, he states when life begins as a matter of belief rather than a matter of science. Implicit in this statement is a rejection that science can even answer this question. If he thought that science could answer this question then it would not be a belief but a citation of scientific fact.

Let’s look at what science says about when human life begins. This is from the Endowment for Human Development: "Biologically speaking, ‘human development begins at fertilization’ when a woman and a man each combine 23 of their own chromosomes through the union of their reproductive cells."

We also know it to be a scientific fact that the diploid single cell produced from haploid sperm and haploid ova meets the definition of a living homo-sapien. Science can tell us if an organism meets the definition of human by testing its genetic code and other measurable characteristics. We can tell if something is living by testing whether the organism exhibits reaction to stimuli and has coordinated metabolism.

This Planned Parenthood president is saying that whether you are born or not determines if you are living. It rejects the current scientific standard that can we can routinely apply to the world around us.

If whether we are living and human is only a personal belief then how can one justify to others that they are alive and worthy of a right to life? This has profound implications. Example: If your personal belief is that I am not living then what harm is there if you shoot me for fun? In short, a standard definition that is scientifically testable for what is living exists but Planned Parenthood wants to reject this scientific definition because it doesn’t fit their ideology.

I find it interesting that we do seem to generally agree on whether something is dead. We can test whether an organism has reaction or stimuli or coordinated metabolism. When those things do not exist, we can know that an organism is dead. If science can give us confidence that something is dead, it also can give us confidence that something is alive by testing with the exact same criteria.

But no, Planned Parenthood has arrogantly declared war on science and I’m calling them on it.

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