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The Scientific Argument For Pro - Life
Abortion is unlike any other issue debated today. Millions of American women have aborted a child, and the pain, loss, and emotional need to justify what was done, both on the part of the mother and on the part of her loved ones, is strong and deep. This means that, in any debate, you may face an invisible thumb on the scale so that even the best logic will fail to persuade. The best you can do is arm yourself with the facts and deliver them in what you hope will be a winning way for your audience -- meaning you will need to make your case, in most instances, not in the language of faith or religion but in the language of the post-modern secularist.

Arguing from Science
The "classic" arguments from the other side collapse under the weight of science. Establishing the evidence of the beginnings of human life will ground your argumentation in science, giving you a much firmer foundation for additional arguments and preempting the charge that you are basing your position on faith or religious belief.

The scientific facts:

1. At the moment when a human sperm penetrates a human ovum, or egg, generally in the upper portion of the Fallopian Tube, a new entity comes into existence. "Zygote" is the name of the first cell formed at conception, the earliest developmental stage of the human embryo, followed by the "Morula" and "Blastocyst".

Is it human? Is it alive? Is it just a cell or is it an actual organism, a "being?" These are logical questions. You should raise them, and then provide the answers. The zygote is composed of human DNA and other human molecules, so its nature is undeniably human and not some other species. The new human zygote has a genetic composition that is absolutely unique to itself, different from any other human that has ever existed, including that of its mother (thus disproving the claim that what is involved in abortion is merely "a woman and her body").

2. It is also quite clear that the earliest human embryo is biologically alive. It fulfills the four criteria needed to establish biological life: metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction. Finally, is the human zygote merely a new kind of cell or is it a human organism; that is, a human being? Scientists define an organism as a complex structure of interdependent elements constituted to carry on the activities of life by separately-functioning but mutually dependent organs. The human zygote meets this definition with ease. Once formed, it initiates a complex sequence of events to ready it for continued development and growth.

The scientific evidence is quite plain: at the moment of fusion of human sperm and egg, a new entity comes into existence which is distinctly human, alive, and an individual organism - a living and fully human being.

There are many other fact-based arguments that can be persuasive, including legal arguments that prove the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade did not create a limited right to abortion but a virtually unlimited right to abortion throughout pregnancy.

When you argue with liberals using faith-based or religious beliefs, their eyes will simply glaze over. To be effective, you must argue in the language of the post-modern secularist. That means science and the law.
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26 comments
 
You come close to defining each human cell as an individual human being. Moreover since it's very likely we will be able to clone people using little more than skin cells, we tend to go back to the old-tired augment, "at what point are we talking about an infant human and not a collection of tissue?" There is (as you might know) a wide range of opinion on this matter, no "scientific conclave" to my recollection has ever "proven" the moment a human becomes human. 

While I can understand one's reluctance to use scientific arguments in favor of banning medical abortion. It's also a good idea to perhaps not  use science to "prove" one opinion. 
 
Is there any record of a Zygote ever becoming anything other than a human being?
 
Um yes. A dead infant. This happens every hour of every day, all over the earth. 
Lance G
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+Nate Cook! ! Bing bing bing! Excellently put. And it's certainly not death that results when a sperm and egg meet.
 
Well I'd also submit that nature (or God if you prefer) spontaneously aborts fetuses all the time, this is sometimes called "stillbirth." 
 
+Guy Pettingill "You come close to defining each human cell as an individual human being."

Not at all. Those cells are constituent parts of a human organism. The zygote, even though it is only one cell, is a distinct organism.

Think of it this way: if you cut off a finger nail, there is no chance of it growing into another human being. If you stored an ovum or a sperm cell for a million years, it would never spontaneously develop into a human being.

You speak of cloning, but cloning is not a magic process whereby a discarded hair or skin cell develops into a full organism. It is not possible even artificially, let alone naturally. The DNA has to be extracted and then it has to be artificially inserted into a new embryo.

To the extent that science is ever settled and definitive on any subject, it is quite clear that conception is the beginning of a new organism, and that new organisms is of the same type as its parents.

You can try to claim that this means nothing in terms of rights or 'personhood', but the latter is a purely abstract and subjective concept and science says nothing about either.

My position is simple: human rights belong to human beings, not only human beings of a certain stage in the life cycle, or with certain subjective capabilities. That sets up a dangerous slippery slope whereby all sorts of people become "unpersons" - the comatose, the deformed, the mentally retarded, infants and toddlers. Indeed, there is already a movement to decriminalize infanticide because, as its proponents rightly point out, any self-consistent argument to allow killing the unborn can be applied to infants.
 
"You speak of cloning, but cloning is not a magic process whereby a discarded hair or skin cell develops into a full organism. It is not possible even artificially, let alone naturally. The DNA has to be extracted and then it has to be artificially inserted into a new embryo."

Whatever the process is, cloning is something that is coming hard and fast, a cloned human is a human being with all the rights and privileges of any other human being - or should be. History teaches us that "matters of economics" will make these people into something other than "human." Additionally there's been a lot of chatter lately on the possibility making stem cells from nearly any tissue. 

While I understand your position and sympathize to a certain extent. I think you may be attempting to hijack science into bolstering your own opinion the "abortion is wrong." I agree with you! Abortion is wrong - however I tend to modify that into "sometimes it's also necessary." Why? Because there are occasional circumstances where aborting a baby might be in the best interests of the mother. I don't suggest that we have abortion clinics on every corner, I also don't think outright banning medical abortion is a good idea since people will just go back to other ways of preforming it. There are few simple answers to this question - but trying to use science to "prove" this or that is not a good use of the scientific process. Science can't prove anything, it can only disprove and remove errors from a system so that whatever is left over must be fact.  
 
Science doesn't make value judgments, so I never said that "science says abortion is wrong." I said science is clear on whether or not the fetus in the crosshairs is living, human, and a distinct organism.

You say, "In the best interests of the mother" but that is far too murky for me. We would never say that we should determine the killing of an adult by thinking about the best interests of the killer.

The only justification for abortion that I can come up with is when carrying the child to term is a serious and imminent threat to the mother's life - that is to say, self defense, the same as any other killing of a human. And that is a vanishingly rare occurrence - at least in the modern west.
 
You say, "In the best interests of the mother" but that is far too murky for me. We would never say that we should determine the killing of an adult by thinking about the best interests of the killer...

No, we often justify the killing of an adult by what is "best for society" and/or revenge. We collectively kill people all the time because they have broken this or that rule. Once again, it happens all the time, we are all guilty and more-so if we happen to live in Texas ;)   

I still maintain that nature- God or whatever aborts "human children" every second of every day. That being said, I could never equate aborting a fetus after a few months of gestation in even the same category of strapping a self aware adult to a table and pumping drugs into him/her to in order to murder them. 
 
+Guy Pettingill That's a question of whether or not the death penalty is murder, or if it is immoral, but it has nothing to do with abortion. I do not agree with capital punishment, but at least in theory it is about killing people who have killed others, whereas the gestating child is totally innocent.
 
The great joy of democracy is that since our opinions really don't matter, we can all have opinions about amazingly irrelevant things.  
 
@Darrell Loudermilk I would say that an adult person is probably more valuable than a fetus. But I have problems calling a fetus an "unborn person" too. 
 
@ Mike DiBaggio Capital punishment is state sanctioned murder. I don't know how anyone can justify this and it leads to a steep slippery slope right to a  Godwin's-law paradise. But that's where we go if we debate the benefits of murder - any murder. 
 
+Guy Pettingill They can justify it like this: "Someone who has committed murder has forfeited their own right to life, indeed they cannot even raise the argument that they deserve to have their own life preserved since they have already rejected that argument in the case of the person they murdered (estoppel)."

Makes a lot more sense than, "I don't feel like taking responsibility for my decisions, so I'm going to kill my baby." And you don't even have to pretend some people are more important than others.
 
+Guy Pettingill They can justify it like this: "Someone who has committed murder has forfeited their own right to life, indeed they cannot even raise the argument that they deserve to have their own life preserved since they have already rejected that argument in the case of the person they murdered (estoppel)."

Nope; don't buy that. In the case of capital punishment, the entity of The State in in effect saying, "it's OK for me to kill you if you murder another person." I don't agree. Murder is unjustified for 'any' reason unless in the case of specific self protection. The state has no business doing it and they sure as heck have no business strapping a  helpless person to a table and offing them in that way. Capital punishment (IMO) is and outmoded, barbaric act which has not one whit of deterrent against people who commit murder. No civilized country should have anything to do with it. 

Now,  somehow attaching this to abortion and suggesting that all cases of abortion are people not taking responsibility is really short-stroking the issue.   I can't get into the mind of a 16 year old  pregnant child (or her parents) and do their thinking for them. Just like I have no business decreeing that this person or that should have children or not. We have 7 billion people on this planet and  it's creating a situation where abortion questions will seem trivial in comparison to millions of people starving. 

Solution? If you don't like abortion, don't do it. If you are concerned with unwanted 'children' in 'your' community (and you really should be.) Adopt one or more of them! If you live in any US metro area you have will have many unwanted children who need a family. The ethics of abortion vs non abortion pale in my mind compared to children moldering away in foster care centers.  
 
Well I'd also submit that nature (or God if you prefer) spontaneously aborts fetuses all the time, this is sometimes called "stillbirth."

Nature also spontaneously clears away weaker or problematic portions of the population, but simply directed by different cellular activity, electrical activity, and some degree of instinctual programming. On a large scale, this is called "war."

I wonder if you have any issues with that natural happening.
 
+Guy Pettingill Well what can I say? I agree with you on capital punishment, but really can't fathom how you can work up all that sympathy for slain murderers, but not an innocent child. If your fantasy malthusian catastrophe scenario justifies a non-judgmental attitude toward the mass slaughter of infants, surely it justifies the same toward psychopaths. Maybe we ought to abort those children "moldering away in foster care centers", too? I mean, surely it would be preferrable, and we have so so many people anyway...

Maybe I can say this:
Solution? If you don't like capital punishment, don't do it. That should square everything up nicely.
 
Can you do nothing but weight your language? I really don't hear an argument? Do you have one or shall you continue to insult me? 
 
Have I not made an argument, or have you simply been deaf to it? Here it is: human beings warrant human rights.

I suppose that doesn't sound convoluted or nuanced enough compared with your non-sequitous digressions about capital punishment and malthusian catastrophes, but I prefer arguments that are straight-forward and internally consistent.
 
In the same way that a seed is not a plant a zygote is not a human. I would also point out that inherent dishonesty in the approach listed in the post. Instead of starting from a forgone conclusion then trying to use science to back it up you should you science to find the proper conclusion. 

On this particular subject I would think the most honest we can be would say that it's a judgment call as to what we want to consider is a human and what isn't. There are good reasons for many different points along the way but I haven't seen anything that makes any particular point stand out as clearly the distinctive point.

Personally I use the beginning of brain activity. To me this makes the most sense, since we use the end of brain activity to determine when someone has died. For me this means that we have one measurement to determine if something is a human life or not which makes things easier. 
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