May 9, 2021

When Does Life Begin?

A Walk in the Park

One of the statements that I’ve found myself having to make time and again goes something like this:  If you believe that life begins at conception, then you have to be careful what you choose as far as birth control.  However, those on the pro-choice side do not believe that life begins at conception, and, furthermore, the whole of Roe v. Wade rests on the concept that they justices were not able to determine from the evidence at the time that that is indeed the case.

However, this reasoning is fundamentally flawed.  It has been testified and is well documented that life begins at conception.

Medical Textbooks and Scientific Reference Works Consistently Agree that Human Life Begins at Conception

The common fallacy that is continually repeated by those wishing to take away the humanity of the unborn child is that there is no medical or scientific consensus as to when human life begins– which is a lie.

Witness, some of the following testimony:

Dr. Louis Fridhandler, in the medical textbook Biology of Gestation, refers to fertilization as “that wondrous moment that marks the beginning of life for a new unique individual.” – 1

Doctors E. L. Potter and J. M. Craig write in Pathology of the Fetus and the Infant, “Every time a sperm cell and ovum unite a new being is created which is alive and will continue to live unless its death is brought about by some specific condition.” – 2

Some of the World’s Most Prominent Scientists and Physicians Testified to a U.S. Senate Committee that Human Life Begins at Conception

Dr. Alfred M. Bongioanni, professor of pediatrics and obstetrics at the University of Pennsylvania, stated:

I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception… I submit that human life is present throughout this entire sequence from conception to adulthood and that any interruption at any point throughout this time consistutes termination of human life…

I am no more prepared to say that these early stages [of development in the womb] 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. – 3

There were no witnesses that could be brought forth to state that life began at any place other than conception.  Only one witness stated that the time life began could not be determined.

The Facts are Clear

There is no disagreement that life begins at conception.  Those that have researched it know this to be the case.  The reason that this information is ignored or glossed over, though, is understandable.  It’s easier to look at that human child inside as anything other than human.  It helps to rationalize the taking of life and ease the guilt that comes with it.

These facts also need to get a grip on the Pro-Life community.  As I’ve said before, if you truly believe this than it’s not enough to have a solution that whose primary means of birth control is preventing ovulation but also works to prevent implantation and kill the baby by denying it nourishment.  Pro-Lifers need to find ways to preventing conception and thereby protecting life and being consistent in their beliefs.

1 Louis Fridhandler, “Gametogenesis to Implantation,” Biology of Gestation, vol. 1, ed. N. S. Assau (New York: Academic Press, 1968), 76.

2 E. L. Potter and J. M. Craig, Pathology of the Fetus and the Infant, 3d ed. (Chicago: Year Book Medical Publishers, 1975), vii.

3 Subcommitte on Separation of Powers to Senate Judiciary Committee S-158, Report, 97th Cong., 1st Sess., 1981.

Unless otherwise credited, facts taken from
Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments Expanded & Updated

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14 thoughts on “When Does Life Begin?

  1. Wow…pretty neat to be able to comment on a post published April 6th, 2007 when it’s only April 4th! 😎

    Anyway…back to the post…I’ve always had a problem with birth-control pills, mainly because I’m more into alternative medicine and any means to keep things as natural as possible. I believe that drugs of any kind mess with your body’s function in ways that are harmful. God designed our bodies to work in a very wonderful way.

    So, yes, pro-lifers do need to think about birth control measures taken. I believe a human being is created at the instant of conception…makes no difference if it is just a group of cells. (I say this because someone a while back had made a comment about that). God designed conception, we have put our medical terminology on it. Our medical ‘wisdom’ has given us the ability for sterilization if you can not have children. If you are married, you can use abstinence, and other means, (naturally) to prevent pregnancy. If you are not married, abstinence is the only option. Since I follow God’s guidelines for my life, there are not a lot of grey areas for me. Things are pretty much black and white, right or wrong.

    That said, God is very gracious and merciful toward us. When we do find ourselves in a mess made from our bad decisions, He is there to pick us up and give us another chance. But, as you said MIN, we need to know what we believe and stick by it. Not use excuses to validate what we are doing.

  2. I am also a firm believer that life begins at conception, how can it any other way? Life begins.

    Now to defend birth control pills. I am not condoning it, and MIn, please forgive me. I had to be on birth control pills, I was having very serious problems with fibroids (at the time I was unaware I had them) and my monthly visitor was very, very painful and lasted a long time. I suffered tremendously. However, I finally decided to stop taking them, I was afraid of the adverse effects.

    Please don’t judge some women for being on birth control, for me, it was not about preventing pregnancy, but preventing horrid misery and unbearable pain and sickness every two weeks. You don’t know unless you have suffered through it.

    After two miraculous births (and they were) I had no other alternative but to have a hysterectomy at the age of 33.

  3. Leticia, I’ve actually argued that there are other uses for BC than just preventing pregnancy. I know that there are people that have been prescribed it to treat medical conditions that are unrelated to child bearing.

    What I was hoping to point out that those that are pro-life should not simply accept that a given birth control method is acceptable because the world says that it is.

    I’m glad to hear that you had your children and that you are still with us!

  4. Great post. I wonder why the topic of being “quiverfull” isn’t as religiously referred to as say, God’s judgement on certain sins? Since He commands us to be fruitful and multiply, are we sinning if we don’t?

    Dh and I aren’t of the quiverfull mindset, though I certainly love seeing it in action. It’s such a testimony, and if it’s God’s will (how can it not be, unless He’s closed your womb?) then I hope He’ll convict Dh and I about it.

    That said, we agree that birth control pills, etc, aren’t the way to go from a pro-life standpoint.

  5. Good Morning, blogger friends. I found myself coming back to this post, as a student came in to my office yesterday stating she had been raped. She is Catholic and didn’t know what to do about emergency contraception. Does it cause an abortion? If she doesn’t take the pill and does become pregnant, would she be bringing a child in to a life that potentially sets he/she up for limited success being only a freshman in college!?! This was a tough situation. It’s been on my mind all night and this morning I went to the mat reading stuff. I came back to this blog, because I know I’d talked with MIn about writing a piece about the view of whether an abortion would be acceptable if she was raped. This is the third student I’ve had in the last 2 weeks with a similar situation. At any rate, this post has helped me in formulating how I will frame the follow up discussion with the student this morning.

  6. Colleen,

    Not to sound disrespectful or insensitive but how are we to guess at the success (possibilities) of a child? I personally believe that if a woman is raped she ought to carry the baby to term. If she cannot afford the child or if she cannot love it, there is always adoption. There is no reason why aborting (murder) is justified in this case. We are not able to place a value on the life other than, it is worth living, how are we to know the future? How are we to predict the course that child’s life should, could or would take? Are we God that we can foresee the life of this child? He alone is able to save a life from the pit, and He alone is able to place a child in a womb, and He alone is able to foresee all things. Did He somehow not KNOW that this woman would be raped? Did He not notice? Did it escape His omniscience? I don’t think so.

    Mrs. Meg Logan

  7. Mrs. Meg Logan –

    I appreciate your thoughts and took nothing of it disrespectfully. Being that I work in Higher Education, and an institution that does not have a Christian foundation and moreso a science background it does make these conversations with students difficult for me being that I am a Christian and a lot of this seems so “simple”. There is a fine line I suppose with what is appropriate and not from an administrative perspective. I guess you could argue it both ways and beyond that I work in a Women’s Center which offers many more liberal thoughts whether I subscribe to them or not. The questions that you pose are very valid and ones in time would be something to ask of this student. Being a rape survivor myself and knowing about PTSD and the emotions that they are experincing days – moments after a rape it’s hard to be so blunt about it. This will be the first student in which I will be able to exercise and integrate more faith in to the conversation. At the end of the day I know that whatever she decides our Lord offers His merciful hand and will Love her unconditionally. It is days likes these that I praise the Lord that I have his guidance and discerning voice that will help me to continue guiding this student down His path.


  8. Colleen, it is with trepidation that I would offer any view here. It is easy to offer clear cut answers from a distance, but something different to offer the same answers when face to face with the people involved.

    It seems to me that there are certain points of faith that we can hold to. Life is sacred, and we have no right to terminate that life for instance. Your Catholic student will also believe that we have no right to *prevent* life through contraception – but on that point I would differ with her.

    A morning after pill *may* merely prevent life, by preventing conception. On the other hand, it may terminate the new life post conception. The chance of the latter may be very small, but it remains a possibility. This lottery is what causes us a problem with these pills. On the other hand, this student maybe believes that the pill used as contraception is equally bad.

    But what is the alternative? If the pill is not administered there is a chance she will become pregnant. The chance is small – but if she does become pregnant, then she will have the choice whether to carry the baby to term.

    The question is whether she will choose to do so for the child’s sake. The worst case scenario would be that she refuse the morning after pill now, only to later choose to terminate her pregnancy. That later choice would, I think, be worse than the “lottery” approach. Whereas if she will put her faith in Christ regardless of the outcome, this is the best choice she could make.

    That is the choice she must make *now*, and with all the love and support we can offer her.

  9. SK, thanks for the thoughts. I’ve appreciated the dialogue today from all those invovled. This post and the comments have really helped me, not the sort of thing they teach you in graduate school 😉 I’m so happy to have a community of believers that will guide and continually teach me! This has been one of the more difficult student interactions I’ve had in my career! Thanks, Mrs. Meg Logan and SK!

  10. To me, there are more options on the table then she thinks. If I could boil down what I believe she’s saying:

    She’s reeling from being raped.
    She does not know what emergency contraception does.
    She does not want to kill her (possible) baby.
    If she has the baby, then she is thinking that she has to keep it.
    She believes that she will not be able to give a good life if she keeps it.

    To these things I say:

    I’m sorry you were used, and I pray that you will find peace in Jesus as your Savior.
    It claims to stop conception, but it does have the chance of inducing an abortion if conception has occurred– it works both ways.
    The best way to make sure you don’t is not to take emergency contraception.
    There are many who are waiting in line to adopt, and you can choose whether to have interaction with your child all along the way.
    If you have a good support system, the fact that you are a freshman won’t matter. You may also find help through Christ, your church, and family. There is also the adoption choice.

  11. You’re so right in your summary, MIn.
    This student was fearful of her parent’s response, as most are. She would have to make this decision within 72 hours for it to even be potentially effective…lots for her to think about and decide. On top of it all her virginity was taken away in such a violent way which just add another layer to the emotions and loss. *sigh

  12. The best thing that we can do is pray and help the girl know that she is not alone, that she’s got support, and that she’s doing the right thing by protecting life.

    You’re right– it’s a lot to absorb in a little amount of time.

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