Thursday, March 26, 2009

Book Excerpt: Why Pro-Life? by Randy Alcorn

Book excerpt:

"Pro-choice advocates once commonly stated, "It's uncertain when human life begins; that's a religious question that cannot be answered by science." Most have abandoned this position because it's contradicted by decades of scientific evidence. However, this out-of-date belief is so deeply engrained in our national psyche that it's still widely believed.

The only way pro-choice logic can prevail is if people believe the unborn are less than fully human.

Are they?

What Science Says


Dr. Alfred M. Bongioanni, professor of obstetrics at the University of Pennsylvania, stated, "I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception...human life is present throughout this entire sequence from conception to adulthood...any interruption at any point throughout this time constitutes a termination of human life."

Speaking of the early stages of a child's development in the womb, Professor Bongioanni said, "I am not more prepared to say that these early stages represent an incomplete human being than I would be to say that the child prior to the dramatic effects of puberty is not a human being. This is human life at every stage."

Dr. Jerome LeJeune, the genetics professor at the University of Descartes in Paris, stated, "After fertilization has taken place a new human being has come into being." He said, this "is no longer a matter of taste or opinion. Each individual has a very neat beginning, at conception.

Professor Micheline Matthews-Roth of Harvard University Medical School said, "It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception."

The moment of each person's creation is the moment of his conception. Before that moment the individual (with his unique DNA) did not exist. From that moment he does exist.

It's not merely pro-life people who believe this. The owner of Oregon's largest abortion clinic testified under oath, "Of course human life begins at conception." The award-winning secular book From Conception to Birth documents the child's beginning at conception and his movement toward birth.

How clear is the proof that human life begins at conception? So clear that the Missouri General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a 2003 bill which stated, "The general assembly of this state finds that: (1) The life of each human being begins at conception; (2) Unborn children have protectable interests in life, health, and well-being...The term 'unborn children' of 'unborn child' shall include all unborn child or children or the offspring of human beings from the moment of conception until birth at every stage of biological development."

Courage and Godspeed,

Chad A. Gross

16 comments:

E.D. Mills said...

This is a very important moral (& political) issue that needs to be confronted. I believe it is ludicrous when a society claims to be civilized but kills innocent lives and furthermore claims their murder to be a "right".

Contemporary Christian singer, Steve Green expresses this tragic irony well in his song "Roses":

"As self indulgence rules our land, some children just don't fit the plan and so we pluck them from God's hand. Is our destruction looming?"

Thank you for being a voice for the unborn. Keep on standing for the Truth, my Brother.

Chad said...

E.D. Mills,

Welcome to the blog brother! Thank you for those powerful words and for your encouragement.

I believe that the way a society treats it's children speaks volumes of that societies character. Sadly, we are speaking loudly, and what it says about our character is shameful.

Great to have you on the blog; your insights will be valuable.

Godspeed

Chasen said...

Hello bombers of truth. This book is amazing! Everyone should read this. The quotes from Professor Bongioanni are probably my favorite part of the whole book. A human being is a human being no matter what stage of development it is in.

Mark Lefers said...

It's not always as black and white as politics tries to make it. For instance, why don't pro-lifers protest in front of fertility clinics where millions of embryos are frozen? Never to live, and most like will be destroyed. Or why don't pro-lifers protest birth control, because that is ending future possible kids too?

E.D. Mills said...

Mr. Lefers,

Pro-lifers are protesting the destruction of human life. As repeatedly mentioned throughout the posted excerpt from "Why Pro-Life", the Pro-life belief is that life begins at conception. In the cases of frozen embryos and birth control both prevent conception and therefore there is not life. A life is not being destroyed, because it does not exist. That is why there is not protest in those scenarios.

Mark Lefers said...

But what is your definition of conception? And why then did President Bush outlaw the use of federal money to use embryos in fertility clinics? I'm not saying what is right and wrong. My point was that its just not black and white.

E.D. Mills said...

The definition of conception according to Web MD: “At the moment when a lone sperm penetrates a mature egg, conception or fertilization takes place.” (Source: http://www.webmd.com/baby/slideshow-conception ) This is not “my’ definition but the official medical fact.

In my prior post, I unintentionally categorized the embryo as pre-conception, which is inaccurate. Frozen embryos are fertilized eggs and therefore post conception, and destroying them is destroying a life. Birth control however is the prevention of conception, and therefore a different issue, which has variance among Pro-Lifers. I mistakenly paired the two issues together. I apologize for doing so. I’m sorry for any confusion that my error may have caused.

Mark Lefers said...

The definition of conception is not black and white as my link above shows. Some use it as fertilization of the egg, others as implantation of the blastocyst. But I’ll try to stress the greyness of the issue:

Does the soul enter when the sperm touches the jelly layer or the vitelline envelope? Or does it happen when the membranes fuse? Or when the sperm nucleus decondenses to form the pronucleus or when the sperm pronuclear envelope breaks down? Or does it occur when each pronucleus migrates toward the other? Or when they start replicating their DNA? Or when the condensed chromatin orient themselves upon a common mitotic spindle? Or does it happen at the 2 cell stage? Or the blastocyst stage? Or at implantation? Or when a CNS develops? Or when the heart begins to beat? Or when brain activity starts? Or when the baby is viable? Or when the baby is born?

These questions may sound silly, but depending on your view of where life begins this may effect other decisions. It may effect whether you think certain birth control as being wrong, from those that stop fertilization, stop implantation, or remove implantated blastocyst. It may effect your view on embryo testing, which removes some cells from the blastocyst, which in theory could make another individual (think twin). It may effect your view on IVF or abortion clinics. The list goes on and on. What I see is that lines are drawn purely on a political basis with little thought on the science. I see it as just a way that the two political parties try to drive a wedge between the voters for their own benefit.

Chad said...

Mark,

How are you doing? Thanks for dropping by the blog.

I have a question:

In the particular book excerpt that I have provided, are the scientists and medical professionals right or wrong?

I simply ask this because they don't seem to struggle with any "greyness" regarding when conception begins.

Of course, one can claim that their views are politically motivated; however, one would have to give evidence of this assertion before it carried any weight.

Thank you and Godspeed,
Chad

Chad said...

Mark and E.D. Mills,

I appreciate the respectfulness of your exchange.

I found this article by philosopher Doug Groothuis regarding abortion. I think it may bring some clarity to the discussion. Here is a paragraph:

"When we separate personhood from humanity, we make personhood an achievement based on the possession of certain qualities. But what are these person-constituting qualities? Some say a basic level of consciousness; some assert viability outside the womb; some say a sense of self interest.

All of these criteria would take away humanity from those in comas or other physically compromised situations. Humans can lose levels of consciousness through injuries, and even infants are not viable without intense human support. Moreover, who are we to say just what qualities make for membership in the moral community of persons?

The stakes are very high in this question. If we are wrong in our identification of what qualities are sufficient for personhood and we allow a person to be killed, we have allowed the wrongful killing of nothing less than a person.

Therefore, I argue that the best ontology is to regard personhood as a substance or essence that is given at conception."

To read the rest of the essay, see here:

http://theconstructivecurmudgeon.blogspot.com/2009/03/why-i-am-pro-life-short-nonsectarian.html

Godspeed

Mark Lefers said...

Hey Chad,
Things are going the same, doubt/unbelief and research.

I don’t know if I would say the scientists and medical professionals mentioned are necessary right or wrong (I know this sounds like dodging the question). An analogy I would use is, is it wrong to say that the sky is blue? On one level no, on another level yes, and on many other levels it’s a maybe (it all depends on where you’re at).

So I believe if those scientists and medical professionals were really pressed as to when exactly life (when a new soul comes in) begins, they would be hard pressed to give specifics.

I can’t give any comment on their political motivations, since I don’t know.

-Mark

E.D. Mills said...

First I would like to make the disclaimer that I do not claim to be a medical expert. But from what I can have read, I would consider life to be have begun at the point of fertilization which occurs approximate period of 24 hours. Web MD, states “At the moment of fertilization, the genetic makeup is complete, including the sex of the infant.” That sounds like human life to me. God’s blueprint for the life is all there in the genetics of the fertilized egg.

The points you made in your blog could possibly effect my view on IVF, birth control, and embryo testing issues, but I do not see how they could possibly effect my stance on Abortion.

These medical facts affect my view on abortion clinics.

All of the genetic make-up is present within the first 24 hours. The implantation of the blastocyst occurs during the second week of pregnancy at which point menstruation ceases. (http://embryology.med.unsw.edu.au/notes/week2_3.htm )
A home pregnancy test can register as being positive in the time frame of four weeks, by that time the lungs, stomach, and liver start to develop in the fetus. (Source: http://www.webmd.com/baby/slideshow-fetal-development ).

Mark Lefers said...

E.D.Mills,
All excellent points (by the way I'm pro-life too, I just practice it differently). Like I said the issue isn't black and white. And pro-lifers put different importance on different stages similar to pro-choicers. For instance, we don't put as much medical attention to saving the blastocyst that fail to implant, but we would spend all we have to save a child dying of leukemia. I agree abortion is a great evil in our society. I just wish both sides would stop fighting and maybe work together to help fix some of the underlying issues. Maybe if we remove the majority of underlying issues, we'll make abortions a bad choice from both sides. Just my thoughts.

E.D. Mills said...

Mr. Lefers,

Thank you for your comments; I will give them further consideration.

However, I am curious as to what you mean when you state that you practice being pro-life differently. Does that mean that you are supportive of Abortion being legal? If so does that include all stages of the pregnancy or only early stages of development as some have suggested? If only early pregnancies should be allowed to be terminated then at what point, which week of the baby’s development? Before you answer, please view this link with details of the chronological development of a baby: http://www.carm.org/secular-movements/abortion/chronological-development-baby

Do you support making Abortion illegal? If so, should there be exceptions for particular circumstances such as rape, incest, the endangerment of the mother’s health? If exceptions are allowed in making Abortion illegal, should there be a limit as to which stage of development that the procedure would be allowed to take place?

Is human life of value? Would you agree that innocent lives should be protected? Is that a black and white statement? Isn’t that a notion which is commonly accepted? Are there any situations no matter how detrimental or traumatizing that could justify taking an innocent life in response? How ever can two wrongs make a right? Is that possible?

Could there truly be any stage of the development of a baby, whether fertilized egg, embryo or fetus, which could be considered less human because it is less developed? Do we place less value on the life of an infant then that of a full-grown functional person in our society? Then why would that not also apply to the womb?

I would have to re-iterate in agreement with Chasen’s final statement in his blog, “A human being is a human being no matter what stage of development it is in.” I could not in clear conscious agree that someone should have a right to choose to destroy life inside or outside of the womb.

Mark Lefers said...

E.D.Mills,
Wow a lot of tough questions. Some of them I would have to put in the grey (I don’t know) section. I’m ok with not knowing, and in those situations, I think the decision should be left out of my hands.
I practice pro-life differently than mainstream pro-lifers by trying to take care of the already born unwanted kids by being a foster parent. Also, I would rather spend my time and energy working on the underlying issues. Politically I think it is a tough choice for me and I don’t agree completely with either side. The one side wants to directly outlaw abortion without addressing the underlying issue, and the other side tries to address some of the underlying issues without trying to outlaw in anyway abortions and sometimes even encouraging it! Then throw in there different views on whether we should be helping the starving, the homeless, the poor, the sick, and the dieing. Makes me want to pull out my hair sometimes. So in practice I sometimes vote for someone who is pro-life, and other times I vote for someone who is pro-choice. For me it’s never an easy choice.
Anyway this will be my last comment, as I should get back to addressing my Christian unbelief. It was good having a civil discussion on what often is a very heated debate.

E.D. Mills said...

I agree that it has been good to have a civilized conversation about a very controversial subject, but I am a little disappointed that the last post you sent will be your final post, because it has raised additional questions much more so than it has answered any of the questions that I had already asked. I did not expect that every question would be answered, but I had hoped the answers you provided would give me a clearer understanding of your view point. Even so, I guess that prior questions that I asked will have to go unanswered and my new questions will have to remain unasked.

From you’re reply, I would have a hard time classifying your view as Pro-Life in terms of the unborn. It seems, from what I concluded, that you do not support illegalizing Abortion altogether, but you also do not believe in Abortion on demand. Also it would seem that you are stating that some restrictions should apply to Abortions but you have not specified as to which restrictions would be suitable.

I would think it is safe to say that a “mainstream” pro-lifer would support helping those who are starving, homeless, in poverty, or sick & dying and that most (if not all) of them do what they can to help those in need. Perhaps the “different views” you have referenced as far as meeting the needs of those who are already born is actually raising the question of “Does the responsibility belong to the Government, to the Individual Citizen or to both. If both then proportionately, how is the responsibility divided?” I’m not sure exactly what you meant, but that is my best guess.

The difficulty that I have in your classification of your views as being “pro-life” is this: to be “Pro-Life”, as I understand the term, is to protect life, whether born on unborn.