Newt Gingrich: Pro-Life But Says Life Begins at Implantation

Politics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 2, 2011   |   1:23PM   |   Washington, DC

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is pro-life on the issue of abortion and frequently voted pro-life during his days in Congress. However, in a new interview, the former Speaker shows he needs to be educated on the scientific understanding that life begins at conception.

In a new interview with Jake Tapper of ABC News, Gingrich said human life begins at implantation rather than conception, which science has established as the starting point for human life.

Tapper asked him, “Abortion is a big issue here in Iowa among conservative Republican voters and Rick Santorum has said you are inconsistent. The big argument here is that you have supported in the past embryonic stem cell research and you made a comment about how these fertilized eggs, these embryos are not yet “pre-human” because they have not been implanted. This has upset conservatives in this state who worry you don’t see these fertilized eggs as human life. When do you think human life begins?”

“Well, I think the question of being implanted is a very big question,” Gingrich said. “My friends who have ideological positions that sound good don’t then follow through the logic of: ‘So how many additional potential lives are they talking about? What are they going to do as a practical matter to make this real?””

“I think that if you take a position when a woman has fertilized egg and that’s been successfully implanted that now you’re dealing with life,” he added. “Because otherwise you’re going to open up an extraordinary range of very difficult questions.”

“So implantation is the moment for you,” Tapper said.

“Implantation and successful implantation. In addition I would say that I’ve never been for embryonic stem cell research per se. I have been for, there are a lot of different ways to get embryonic stem cells. I think if you can get embryonic stem cells for example from placental blood if you can get it in ways that do not involve the loss of a life that’s a perfectly legitimate avenue of approach,” Gingrich explained.

“What I reject is the idea that we’re going to take one life for the purpose of doing research for other purposes and I think that crosses a threshold of de-humanizing us that’s very very dangerous,” he said.

LifeNews blogger Gerard Nadal, a molecular biologist, says human life begins at conception and other scientists have confirmed that to be true.

“Many claim that life begins at some point distant from fertilization, always beyond the point at which they propose some manipulation (abortion, embryonic stem cell culturing, etc…). There are always a list of biological functions that are given to define when human life begins: Cognitive capacity, etc,” Nadal explains. “The simple biological truth of the matter is that the Cell Theory states that all cells arise from pre-existing cells. There is no blackout period between sperm and egg uniting, and then the emergence of ‘life’ at some point distant.”

Joshua Mercer of Catholic Vote says the Gingrich error is a bid deal.

“Newt Gingrich’s answer on when human life begins is simply unacceptable. But his mistake isn’t due to timidness like when Pawlenty pulls his punch or from a profound lack of debate skills like Perry’s oops moment. No, Newt Gingrich’s error is much worse because he actually believes something which is wrong. And it has drastic consequences,” he said.

Gingrich maintained a very strong pro-life voting record, according to the National Right to Life Committee, and has said the Republican Party needs to be pro-life.

“I think we’re clearly a pro-life party,” he once said. “We had a vice presidential nominee who was pro-life. I don’t see [this] as a significant change. I think that it is continuity in how this party has evolved over the last 30 years.”

“I think that abortion should not be legal,” he told American View. “Abortion is a very, very important moral question and I think it’s a very important question about the very nature of society. And I think that in terms of voting on the issue and speaking on the issue I’ve been pretty clear in my entire career. I did cite at the beginning of the book, that I think that people who are not certain how they feel about “right to life,” have in fact been coming our way.”

“There should be [legal protection for unborn children,],” Gingrich added. “And I think the focus has been on doctors performing abortions. And in that sense that we want to move the society as rapidly as we can that people should select adoption rather than abortion and that choosing abortion is not acceptable.”

LifeNews reporter Andrew Bair has extensively profiled Gingrich’s pro-life views.

Gingrich’s voting record on pro-life issues reflected the consensus pro-life views of the majority of Americans.

Gingrich voted in favor of a ban on partial-birth abortion. (President Clinton ultimately vetoed the bill and a ban was not signed into law until President Bush took office.) Gingrich also voted to cut federal funding to organizations that perform or promote abortions abroad, including the United Nations Population Fund, which is complicit in carrying out China’s One Child Policy. In addition, Gingrich supported restrictions on funding for assisted suicide.

In the 2012 presidential race, Gingrich has pledged to appoint pro-life judges to the Supreme Court, end taxpayer funding of abortion, de-fund Planned Parenthood and sign into law a federal Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.  Gingrich is also committed to repealing the pro-abortion Obama healthcare law, which contains massive abortion funding and threats of rationing.