Thursday, August 21, 2014

This is what science says about human life

With respect to current discussions about abortion, protection of life, and the rights of the pregnant woman, I think it timely to recall the scientific consensus about human life:

·        The life of every living being generated by means of sexual reproduction begins with the fertilization of the female by the male gamete, i.e. with the formation of the zygote. That is the point in time when a new being appears, of the same species as its parents, whose genetic endowment (its DNA) is different from that of its parents and any other living being of the same species, except for identical twins. This new living being will keep its genetic endowment until its death. This is the reason why the eggs of sea turtles and other endangered species are protected, because they are individuals of those species.
·        In every species of living beings who do not go through metamorphosis (including all reptiles, birds and mammals, and of course man) there is no sharp change in their development from the zygote to death. The different phases we use to make out (embryo, fetus, neonate, child, teenage, adult and old) are arbitrary, without any discontinuities. Not even the birth is anatomically discontinuous (it consists in cutting a blood vessel; physiologically it has other effects). There is no doubt that in all those phases, from the first to the last, the same individual is involved.
·        In every placental mammal (including man), the first phase of the life of the new individual takes place inside the body of the mother. Pregnancy is equivalent and replaces development inside the egg, which in reptiles and birds takes place outside the mother’s body. In both cases, maternity begins in fertilization, not in birth, whose equivalent is the rupture of the egg shell. A woman is a mother from the moment she becomes pregnant.


These are not modern discoveries, they have been very well-known since over a century. This is the consensus of biology, accepted by every biologist. In that case, why some biologists are in favor of abortion? Because they follow the relativistic ethics, because they assert that everything society decides is morally acceptable. Because they believe that a decision about this is not a question of science, but of laws.


Facing the possibility to perform an abortion, every woman should have all the information, which sometimes seems to be hidden on purpose. There are too many educated people who appear to ignore elementary biological concepts such as the fact that an embryo is a living being belonging to the human species, different from the body of its mother.

Manuel Alfonseca

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