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Science’s final answer to when human life begins

/ 07:45 PM October 06, 2013

The importance of the issue of the beginning of human life was clearly put forward by professor emeritus of human embryology of the University of Arizona School of Medicine, Dr. C. Ward Kischer: “Since 1973, when Roe vs. Wade was adjudicated, there have been many socio-legal issues involving the human embryo. Abortion, partial-birth abortion, in vitro fertilization, fetal tissue research, human embryo research, (embryonic) stem cell research, cloning and genetic engineering are core issues of human embryology. Every one of these issues has been reduced to a question of when human life begins. And that question is as prominent in the public media today as it was when first posed in 1973.”

Many opinions have been forwarded to answer this question, including some published in the Inquirer. But what is important is not the opinions or the purely subjective views but the scientific discoveries that present the objective truth. What does science say about this issue?

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We at the American College of Pediatricians concur with the statement of the Philippine Medical Association, when it said that “a human person or human being already does exist at the moment of fertilization.” (https://www.philippinemedicalassociation.org/downloads/circular-forms/Position-Paper-on-the-Republic-Health-Bill-%28Responsible-Parenthood-Bill%29.pdf)

As stated in our website, “Scientific and medical discoveries over the past three decades have only verified and solidified this age-old truth. At the completion of the process of fertilization, the human creature emerges as a whole, genetically distinct, individuated zygotic living human organism, a member of the species Homo sapiens, needing only the proper environment in order to grow and develop. The difference between the individual in its adult stage and in its zygotic stage is not one of personhood but of development.” (http://www.acpeds.org/the-college-speaks/position-statements/life-issues/when-human-life-begins)

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This is the final answer to this issue, as Professor Kischer puts it. In an article titled “When does human life begin? The final answer,” which was published in the Linacre Quarterly, he categorically states: “Virtually every human embryologist and every major textbook of human embryology states that fertilization marks the beginning of the life of the new individual human being.”

—DEN TRUMBULL, MD, FCP,

president, American College of Pediatricians, [email protected]

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