When Does Life Begin?
The life of a baby begins long before he or she is born. A new individual human being begins at fertilization, when the sperm and ovum meet to form a single cell. If the baby's life is not interrupted, he or she will someday become an adult man or woman. Worldwide, millions of unborn babies are killed each year. In the United States over 40 million unborn babies have been killed in the 40 years since abortion was legalized and more than 1.2 million are killed each year.
The question of when life begins is not an issue of theology or philosophy; it can easily be answered by elementary biology. For more than 100 years, medical science has known conclusively that every individual's life begins at the moment of fertilization.
Consider the following:
"The term conception refers to the union of the male and female pronuclear elements of procreation from which a new living being develops."
Greenhill and Friedman
Biological Principles and Modern Practice of Obstetrics
W.B. Saunders, Philadelphia, 1974
"A new individual is created when the elements of a potent sperm merge with those of a fertile ovum, or egg."
Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th Edition
Article on Pregnancy
"It is the penetration of the ovum by a spermatozoan and the resultant mingling of the nuclear material each brings to this union that constitutes the culmination of the process of fertilization and marks the initiation of the life of a new individual."
Bradley M. Patten
Foundations of Embryology
"Since the old ethic has not yet been fully displaced it has been necessary to separate the idea of abortion from the idea of killing, which continues to be socially abhorrent. THe result has been a curious avoidance of the scientific fact, which everyone really knows, that human life begins at conception and is continuos whether intra- or extra-uterine until death. The very considerable semantic gymnastics which are required to rationalize abortion as anything but taking a human life would be ludicrous if they were not put forth under socially impeccable auspices."
"A New Ethic for Medicine and Society"
California Medicine, September 1970
"The over-riding message of all this new research is that the life of a baby begins at conception. Informed care of that child must also begin at conception, or even before, if he or she is to have a good chance for healthy life."
Chicago Tribune, September 12, 1977
"A new lesson from DNA - life begins at conception"
A news article reports on conference of scientists meeting in Montreal
which released a wealth of new research in the study of DNA
"A baby begins as a single cell, smaller than the period at the end of this sentence. ... This cell is created by the union of two parent cells: the female egg cell or ovum, and the male sperm cell."
The First Nine Months
Simon and Shuster, 1962
"The human genome is a peal, a model of high performance and reliability. Millions of times a year, egg genome meets sperm genome, and the result is a human baby, its parts all in place, its brain a universe of love and meaning."
-New York Times, June 27, 2000
in an article discussing developments of the Human Genome Project
"Modern biology teaches us that ancestors are united to the progeny by a continuous material link, for it is from the fertilization of the female cell (the ovum) and the male cell (the spermatozoon) that a new member of the species will emerge. Life has a very long history, but each individual has a very neat beginning - the moment of its conception."
-French geneticist Dr. Jerome Lejeune
"A Very Neat Beginning"
Social Science and Modern Society, May/June 1982