It’s Time To Demand Intellectual Honesty About Abortion


Though the media blackout on Kermit Gosnell was well-maintained until the verdict was announced, the dam finally broke at the end. Bit by bit, an increasing percentage of the population became aware. By necessity, once the horror of the Gosnell’s atrocities were in plain view, it was time for damage control. Forced to cover his crimes, the pro-abortion members of the media dutifully informed us that Gosnell was an anomaly, not representative of the fine, upstanding abortion doctors serving American women for decades in their need for “health services”. In perhaps the most glaringly obvious attempt to discredit the connection between Gosnell and the larger abortion industry, William Saletan at Slate wrote a piece entitled, “Kermit the Rogue“. Says Saletan:

Kermit Gosnell, the notorious Philadelphia late-term abortionist, has been convicted. A jury found him guilty of murder for killing three babies after failed abortions, and of involuntary manslaughter for causing a woman’s death.

Now comes the smear campaign. “Gosnell is not alone,” says Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue. “Gosnell is not an outlier,” says Lila Rose, president of Live Action. Gosnell is “not the aberration,” says Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life. Yoest points to investigations of other clinics for “dangerous and unsanitary practices that exposed women to injuries and infections, and infants born alive following attempted abortions.”

The bad news for pro-lifers—and the good news for everybody else—is that Gosnell really is an outlier. Other abortion clinics don’t do what he did to patients or live-born babies. Few have even come close. Late-term abortions and patient deaths are relatively rare. Part of the exonerating evidence comes from government data. The rest comes, inadvertently, from pro-lifers themselves.

Saletan goes on to attempt to discredit the “myth” that there are over 1,000 live-births after failed abortions in America every year. He ignores entirely the fact that what Gosnell did to babies outside the womb, abortion doctors across the nation are doing to babies inside the womb every day. The cognitive dissonance displayed here is staggering.

So instead of focusing on the simple truth of what abortion is, many of its proponents sidetrack us instead with the arguments about whether or not a fetus is, in fact, human at all. This is a distraction from the debate we should be having, and it is waged under a banner of false language, of euphemisms like “choice” and “reproductive rights” but never the specificity of scientific fact.

I’ve had enough. I propose that in the wake of Gosnell (and in light of the other butchers like him whose crimes are now coming to light) that we dispense with excessive diplomacy and go on the offensive. We must stop giving cover to those who would obfuscate and confuse the issue and challenge them instead. The simple fact is this: no honest, informed person can possibly believe that an abortion does not take a human life.

Science makes no provision for this idea. From the startlingly clear imagery provided by ultrasound technology to the detailed information provided by genetic testing to the continued advances in embryology, science is on our side. It always has been, but the evidence is mounting. We should not be afraid to stand on its findings.

In 1989, world-renowned French geneticist Dr. Jerome Lejeune was called to testify as an expert witness at a trial in Blount County, Tennessee. A divorced couple was fighting over what at the time must have seemed like a scenario out of a science fiction novel: custody of their seven cryogenically frozen embryos. After establishing his remarkable credentials, Dr. Lejeune provided the court with a lengthy explanation of embryonic development and genetic makeup. When it came time to ask his opinion on the central issue — the humanity of the embryos — his response left no room for doubt about his scientific opinion.

Q.: … I will ask you directly, Dr. Lejeune: You have referred to the zygote and the embryo as quote early human beings.’

A.: Yeah.

Q.: Do you regard an early human being as having the same moral rights as a later human being such as myself?

A.: You have to excuse me, I’m very, very direct. As far as your nature is concerned, I cannot see any difference between the early human being you were and the late human being you are, because in both case, you were and you are a member of our species. What defines a human being is: He belongs to our species. So an early one or a late one has not changed from its species to another species. It belongs to our kin. That is a definition. And I would say very precisely that I have the same respect, no matter the amount of kilograms and no matter the amount of differentiation of tissues.

Q.: Dr. Lejeune, let me make sure I understand what you are telling us, that the zygote should be treated with the same respect as an adult human being?

A.: I’m not telling you that because I’m not in a position of knowing that. I’m telling you, he is a human being, and then it is a Justice who will tell whether this human being has the same rights as the others. If you make difference between human beings, that is, on your own to prove the reasons why you make that difference. But as a geneticist you ask me whether this human being is a human, and I would tell you that because he is a being and being human, he is a human being.

He is not alone in his certitude. A 1981 Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing solicited testimony from a number of doctors and experts. Their statements were unequivocal:

“It is incorrect to say that biological data cannot be decisive…It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception.”

Professor Micheline Matthews-Roth
Harvard University Medical School

“I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception.”

Dr. Alfred M. Bongioanni
Professor of Pediatrics and Obstetrics, University of Pennsylvania

“After fertilization has taken place a new human being has come into being. [It] is no longer a matter of taste or opinion…it is plain experimental evidence. Each individual has a very neat beginning, at conception.”

Dr. Jerome LeJeune
Professor of Genetics, University of Descartes

“By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception.”

Professor Hymie Gordon
Mayo Clinic

“The beginning of a single human life is from a biological point of view a simple and straightforward matter – the beginning is conception.”

Dr. Watson A. Bowes
University of Colorado Medical School

The official Senate report reached this conclusion:

Physicians, biologists, and other scientists agree that conception marks the beginning of the life of a human being – a being that is alive and is a member of the human species. There is overwhelming agreement on this point in countless medical, biological, and scientific writings.

The physicians are not alone.  Faye Wattleton, Planned Parenthood’s longest-serving president, told Ms. Magazine in 1997:

I think we have deluded ourselves into believing that people don’t know that abortion is killing. So any pretense that abortion is not killing is a signal of our ambivalence, a signal that we cannot say yes, it kills a fetus.

Other pro-abortion voices have similarly expressed this belief. It is too obviously true to credibly deny.

This should empower us. Many who are supportive of abortion do not, for obvious reasons, share our religious views. And far too often, those who are pro-life make the mistake of basing their arguments on faith or scripture, thus entangling ourselves in debates over metaphysical things in which the larger point we are making is lost. We do not need to make a religious argument about personhood or the existence of human life in the womb. We have the facts on our side, and we can fight like empiricists. We have the benefit of logic and reason, and we are opposed by little more than emotion and misdirection.

We need to be the ones framing this debate. We mustn’t allow ourselves to be sidetracked by spurious arguments anymore.


Categories:Abortion Pro-Life

30 thoughts on “It’s Time To Demand Intellectual Honesty About Abortion

  1. Alexx says:

    We don’t need a religious argument to convince people that killing a human being is bad…or do we???? With moral relativism today, the objective morals only found in religion may be necessary to make a complete case against abortion. Lets’s not forget that disgusting arguments like this exist:

    1. Steve Skojec says:

      As I said in another comment, the argument over the VALUE of life – the ethical consideration of taking life – is a separate argument. My point is that in trying to do both (establish that an unborn child is human AND establish that they should have the same rights in one fell swoop) we often accomplish neither.

      To my mind, forcing the majority of abortion supporters to make the kind of argument in this revolting thing you just linked to (was it written by Mengele???) puts them on the moral low ground. This is, except to the hardened, demonic heart, not an argument capable of garnering much sympathy.

      Make them sound like the gatekeepers for human extermination that they really are first; only then go after them with morals and ethics when they can’t throw up semantic smokescreens anymore.

  2. Michael Dietz says:

    Larry, the point is that the fetus or whatever you choose to call it is a human life. So does anyone have the right to choose the continuation or ending of another human. The answer in an advanced society is no.

  3. Geme says:

    I agree with the points except the last one; when you start to remove God and religion from ur argument, you start to lose your base. So, a complete dismissal of religion is in noway a good way out, rather we have to use them in parallel with logic and reason.

    1. Steve Skojec says:

      God and religion do enter the discussion when it comes to ethics. The Christian perspective on creation is certainly formative in terms of our own appreciation of unborn life. But I stand behind my assertion that with many non-religious or anti-religious abortion advocates, making Godly arguments for the sanctity of life is a losing battle from the start. The discussion inevitably turns to a battle over belief, summons ad hominem attacks, gets into the weeds of creation vs. evolution, etc. etc. etc.

      They cannot out-argue us on the science of what makes a human being a human being. Science is what they supposedly respect. This gives us an advantage and puts them on the defensive. Ultimately, it forces those who support abortion “rights” to make the case that yes, it’s a child, and yes, we should have the right to kill it.

      That’s a losing argument if I’ve ever heard one. It groups them in with everyone who has ever decided that it is acceptable to kill particular groups of human beings, from the KKK to the Communists, from the Nazis to Islamic terrorists. If that is the ground they want to stand on, then let them stand on it. We’ll see how long the popularity of such a manifestly brutal position bears public scrutiny.

  4. CAROL M ALESIA says:

    Both women and men who believe abortion is O.K. will continue to try to justify it. But, it is intellectually dishonest of them to even make the attempt. Life does begin at conception. If it did not, then when is the beginning of a child’s life? When it first feels pain? When its hands and fingers can first move? When its arms and legs are perfectly shaped and in motion? Wait….what was that kick that every pregnant woman has felt? The arguments for abortion are specious and pointless. Those who want abortions will get them. Those who know that each time an abortion is performed a child is murdered will never believe otherwise because the truth will not be denied. But, we all must ask the question: why was the general media so afraid of reporting on this “doctor’s” crimes? Why has he been treated by the general media as some kind of an exception to the rule? What are they and other liberals like them so afraid of us hearing? It was the heartbeat of a child that was abruptly stopped by someone who had once taken the oath: “First, do no harm….”.

  5. Larry says:

    Currently, in the United States, a woman has the right to terminate her pregnancy. This right was not given to her because the fetus is not considered a human being. It was given to all women because the law has decided that a woman has a right to determine if she will or will not bring a fetus to term.

    1. Steve Skojec says:

      In the opinion he wrote for the Court at the conclusion of Roe v. Wade, Justice Blackmun made the following case:

      We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.

      His statement was – and is – a lie. We have known when life begins, but the Court chose to ignore that.

      1. Larry says:

        Even if “life” begins at conception, a woman has the right to determine if the fetus comes to term. No one but the woman carrying the fetus has the right to determine that for her. It’s a basic right of all women. Forcing a woman to become a mother is inherently a form of slavery.

        1. CAROL M ALESIA says:

          Sorry, Larry….but, NO ONE has the right to murder another except in self-defense. What gives a woman some special privilege of determining whether another human being has the right to live? This nonsense that a woman has the “right” is preposterous. It is generally a very selfish decision made by a woman who enjoyed the sex but does not want to face the responsibility that goes along with it. Sound familiar? That sums up the attitude of a lot of people today, both male and female, which is why our society is in such a mess. No one has decreed that she must become a mother. That is a special privilege set aside for those who do take responsibility for their actions and do want to be a mother to the child she has carried in her womb. No, a woman does not need to raise the child, but she has a moral obligation not to kill the child. There are countless numbers of married couples in this country alone that would love to adopt these children. There is no need for this slaughter.

        2. Steve Skojec says:

          If a woman has the right to determine…whether to kill her child (let’s not play semantic games with this “come to term” nonsense) then anyone should have that right, and it should be applicable to all. If that’s not what you want, then why are you so discriminatory?

          1. Larry says:

            Steve, we’re talking about pre-birth. Why do you pretend that a fetus inside a woman has been born? And since when did “come to term” become a semantic game? It means “born.” And why is a woman called a mother when the fetus is born and not at the moment of conception?

          2. Steve Skojec says:

            Yes, I’m well aware of what we’re talking about. I don’t pretend that an unborn child has been born. The only people pretending are those who pretend that as long as a child is separated from view by the veil of the womb, that a “right” exists to kill it.

            Using phrasing like “determine if the fetus comes to term” is a semantic game when you use it as a euphemistic replacement for “kill the fetus.” It sounds so much less harsh, but the only way to stop that little human being from being born is to end its life.

            You may not call a woman a mother at conception, but I do. I didn’t become a father the day my first child was born – I became a father the day my wife and I created a life together. But whether or not we call a woman a mother at conception does not change the fact that scientifically, biologically, she IS a mother. She carries her offspring, nourishes and shelters it by her own body, even before she knows she has conceived. She is a mother in the most visceral sense of the word.

          3. Larry says:

            So now you refer to the fetus as “offspring.” How does that relate to “intellectual honesty?” And I guess a fetus is a descendant. And a woman pregnant for the first time is a mother. And a man who has impregnanted a woman for the first time is a father. You’re re-writing the definitions of the English language in order to make your point.

          4. Steve Skojec says:

            I’m rewriting? Try again:

            offspring | off·spring noun \ˈȯf-ˌspriŋ\ the product of the reproductive processes of an animal or plant

            parent | par·ent noun \ˈper-ənt\ one that begets or brings forth offspring

            mother | moth·er noun \ˈmə-thər\ a female parent

            father | fa·ther noun \ˈfä-thər\ a man who has begotten a child

            Nope. According to Merriam Webster, it looks like I’m using the language perfectly well.

            Please make a substantive argument. I’m not using obfuscating language to conceal my points. My meaning is very clear. I don’t refer to abortion only as “choice”, the unborn child only as a “fetus”, the legal protection for abortion as “reproductive rights” or “women’s health”, or the dismemberment or chemical killing of a living human child in utero as “not to carrying a pregnancy to term”. That’s your job.

          5. Larry says:

            And a fetus is a child. And men and women are parents to a fetus. And the rights of a fetus rank higher than the rights of a pregnant woman. And on and on and on. What next? A womn’s ovaries belong to society? A man’s sperm is a child waiting to be born?

          6. Steve Skojec says:

            A fetus IS a child. That’s the point. That’s what science demonstrates.

            Nobody said the rights of an unborn child rank higher than his mother. My argument is that they should be considered equal, just like the rights of a mother and her newborn. We don’t choose between the two. We choose both.

            The rest of your arguments don’t warrant a response. It seems the whole science part of this post, and the comments that have followed, have been lost on you.

          7. Larry says:

            A human fetus is human. When a human fetus is born it is then a child. Calling a human fetus a child is an attempt to manipulate the laws of the land with mumbo jumbo logic.

  6. Sean Argir says:

    From a genetics standpoint, I do agree that a human being is in the DNA from conception.

    I am glad this article’s main focus is on giving the reason why at conception, that the zygote is called a human being. I am also glad it doesn’t go into detail on why or why not all kinds of abortions are right or wrong.

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