When life begins: Science ignored

Dr. A. Patrick Schneider
Dr. A. Patrick Schneider

Michael Rivage-Seul’s column, “Softening pro-life pope’s climate message,” is multi-faceted.

First, if the case is so compelling, why does Pope Francis’ encyclical not contain a single citation at the end of its three sentences containing the phrase “global warming,” and 11 sentences containing the phrase “climate change”?

Second, Rivage-Seul claims that there have been “no end of sermons about the evils of contraception and abortion.”

Really? Most pulpits have been silent, especially on the latter. Cardinal Timothy Dolan has called this reluctance a “laryngitis” for a topic “that’s too hot to handle.”

My focus is Rivage-Seul’s claim that the defense of human life at all stages (i.e., “personhood” of fetuses) is based on “medieval science.”

But, what does science really say?

Langman’s (1971) embryology text opened with, “The development of human being begins with fertilization…”

Likewise, the Stedman’s Medical Dictionary (21st ed.) clearly defined conception as “becoming pregnant, the fecundation of the ovum.” Since 1912, it had defined conception as “becoming pregnant.”

Likewise, Ward Kischer, chairman of the American Bioethics Advisory Commission, has stated that: “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.”

If the general public found that life began at conception, the birth control pill would have been rejected.

The late Dr. John Wilke, an anti-abortion activist, disclosed that the American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology, the Food and Drug Administration, some drug companies and the late Dr. Alan Frank Guttmacher of Planned Parenthood had a meeting and solved this dilemma by quietly redefining conception as implantation.

So in 1965, the ACOG stated flatly, “Conception is the implantation of a fertilized ovum.”

Similarly, California Medicine (1970) asked its physician readers to play a new game called “semantic gymnastics” and to avoid “the scientific fact, which everyone already knows, that human life begins at conception…”

Despite these powerful and deceitful attempts, the Moore et al. embryology text (2016) states, “Human development begins at fertilization … the beginning of each of us as a unique individual …(from) chromosomes and genes that are derived from the mother and the father.”

Only truth is coherent. For nearly a century, Stedman’s had properly defined conception and pregnancy, but the 27th edition (2000) capitulated to this pill-accommodating-corrupted agenda. This edition of the venerable scientific text then approached comedy.

A ruling class that has the power to redefine the beginning of human life also has the power to define the terms for ending it, which the Supreme Court did in 1973. Abortion restrictions of every state were struck down.

Next the Hippocratic Oath, with its prohibitions against abortion and euthanasia, was deconstructed, and then quietly discarded. Astonishingly, doctors once pledged to practice their art with “holiness and purity.”

Is medicine, without a sense of the sacred, more trusted or less trusted?

A. Patrick Schneider II, a Lexington physician in family and geriatric medicine, holds a masters in public health from Harvard University.

At issue: March 12 commentary by Michael Rivage-Seul, “Softening pro-life pope’s climate message”