TW Viewpoint | Abortion: Is It Right To Abort A ZygoteApril 24, 2019 | Jonathan Riley
Once a zygote has been formed in conception the cell begins to rapidly divide and form a human embryo. From day one all the required instructions to form our genetic makeup are in place inside of the genes of our chromosomes and within three weeks a heart starts beating. However, the typical gestation period of nine months does not always go according to plan. On May 20th 1987 James Elgin Gill was born in Ottawa and for the next 27 years he held the world record as the earliest form premature baby, at just 21 weeks and five days gestation, and weighing only one pound six ounce or 624 grams. Since 1969 abortion has been legal in Canada and according to the World Health Organization 56 million abortions are carried out each year worldwide despite a 41 percent decline in abortion rates from developed countries since 1990.
It is difficult to determine the given reasons for a decline in abortion rates but more recently the pro-life argument has gained traction. Most notably due to scientific advances in understanding fetal development such as the earliest stage for when a fetus can experience pain. Dr. Maureen Condic a neurobiologist was recently appointed to the National Science Board in the United States wrote a report in 2014 titled “A Scientific View of When Life Begins”
“The conclusion that the human life begins at sperm-egg fusion is uncontested, objective, based on the universally accepted scientific method of distinguishing different cell types from each other and on ample scientific evidence (thousands of independent, peer-reviewed publications). Moreover, it is entirely independent of any specific ethical, moral, political, or religious view of human life or of human embryos. Indeed, this definition does not directly address the central ethical question surrounding the embryo: what value ought society place on human life at the earliest stages of development?”
So what value does society place on human life at the earliest stages of development?
Child protection laws and equivalent legislation provide a great degree of protection for those considered vulnerable or defenseless. At least this applies to children and babies alike and yet large swathes of society, in particular those within the scientific community and many practicing OB/GYN physicians do not apply this concept to humans in embryo. The argument for pro-choice is to put the health and well-being of the mother over that of the child. Dr. Willie Parker an American physician wrote a book titled “Life's Work: A Moral Argument for Choice”, and in a New York Times interview on his book he stated the following:
“Life is a process, not an event. If I thought I was killing a person, I wouldn’t do abortions. A fetus is not a person; it’s a human entity. In the moral scheme of things, I don’t hold fetal life and the life of a woman equally. I value them both, but in the precedence of things, when a woman comes to me, I find myself unable to demote her aspirations because of the aspirations that someone else has for the fetus that she’s carrying.”
As Dr. Parker states a fetus and by extension a zygote is a human life yet, he does not see it as a person. So when does a fetus achieve the status of personhood? Dr. John Miklavcic from the University of Alberta wrote a paper titled “Personhood status of the human zygote embryo fetus”. He examines the philosophical argument for when a fetus can be granted the status of personhood based on such criteria as rationality and self-consciousness, and he concluded that”
“The human zygote contains all necessary genetic programming for development (of heart, brain, etc.) associated with mechanical function, rational thought, and cognitive sapient awareness that takes time to develop but are present from the beginning…”
“…it is most reasonable to support the notion that personhood status is present at the point of human fertilization.”
Physicians and scientists agree that even a zygote is a human life, but as in the case of Dr. Parker's argument for abortion and indeed what a majority of the pro-choice argument holds is that although abortion is the ending of life from a scientific perspective it is not the killing of a person based on their conscience the entire argument surrounding abortion is based on morality not science.
Humanity has talked itself into committing unimaginable acts of cruelty and depravity, often on the understanding that the end justifies the means.
So is it morally acceptable to stamp out life or should we look to preserve, support and protect life from the moment of conception? What is the source of your morality?