Weatherford Democrat

November 6, 2013

OPINION: When does human life begin?


Weatherford Democrat

— By DAVID NOWAK



Abortion is one of the most divisive and controversial issues of our day. People generally have strong views about abortion. It is not a social issue of mere preference, but an issue about life and death.

A federal appeals court issued a ruling Thursday reinstating most of Texas’ controversial new abortions restrictions, just three days after a federal judge ruled they were unconstitutional. Thank God for that!

Abortion draws out the clashes between two divergent world views. The humanistic world view says, “Man is the highest standard there is. You don’t answer to anyone, so do whatever you want.” The Christian world view says, “We answer to God, and He has commanded us not to murder. We must always submit our desires and preferences to the authority of His Word.”

I believe that one of the reasons that we see such emotional, tenacious commitment to the availability of abortion is that women have been brainwashed to believe that what is growing in their womb is not human life. According to the Guttmacher Institute, in the United States more than 1 million abortions occur each year, more than 3,000 per day, and 22 percent of all pregnancies end in abortion; the planned and premeditated murder with malice and aforethought toward the victim, the unborn child in the womb.

Science tells us that human life begins at the time of conception. From the moment fertilization takes place, the child’s genetic makeup is already complete. Its gender has already been determined, along with its height and hair, eye and skin color. The only thing the embryo needs to become a fully-functioning being is the time to grow and develop.

Recently, Dr. Robert George wrote an article outlining this whole topic in more detail. In his words: “That is, in human reproduction, when sperm joins ovum, these two individual cells cease to be, and their union generates a new and distinct organism. This organism is a whole, though in the beginning developmentally immature, member of the human species. Readers need not take our word for this: They can consult any of the standard human-embryology texts, such as Moore and Persaud’s The Developing Human, Larsen’s Human Embryology, Carlson’s Human Embryology & Developmental Biology, and O’Rahilly and Mueller’s Human Embryology & Teratology.

“Human embryos, whether they are formed by fertilization, natural or in vitro, or by successful somatic-cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), i.e., cloning, do have the internal resources and active disposition to develop themselves to the mature stage of a human organism, requiring only a suitable environment and nutrition. In fact, scientists distinguish embryos from other cells or clusters of cells precisely by their self-directed, integral functioning, their organismal behavior.

Thus, human embryos are what the embryology textbooks say they are, namely, human organisms, living individuals of the human species at the earliest developmental stage.”

Here is a look at a few of those early developmental facts:

• Eighteen days – a baby’s heart begins to beat.

• Forty-three days brain coordinates movement.

• Seven weeks – a baby can hiccup.

• Eight weeks – organs can function.

• Nine weeks – baby has permanent fingerprints.

Human embryos only need a suitable environment and nutrition to become more mature human beings.

Hey, that’s kind of like humans at any stage, at least for our biological maturity. Unfortunately, the culture outside of the womb is seemingly a less and less “suitable environment” for bringing about other kinds of maturity. But that’s another issue entirely.

But despite our maturity, biological or otherwise, we are “whole” members of the human species, human beings. And with that comes an inherent dignity and right to life.

One of the great powers of science is that it is able to help clarify moral issues like this for us. It’s a powerful tool. Science is clear on this one. If you are a fan of science, then consider also being a fan of human life, at all of its stages.

Society continually seeks to devalue the lives of the unborn, creating its own definitions of humanity based on distorted views of morality. But the undeniable fact is that life begins at creation, and a human is created as soon as he or she is conceived. God is present at our creation; He is, in fact, our Creator. Our value as human beings created in His image is conceived even before we are.

More importantly, God reveals to us in His Word that not only does life begin at conception, but He knows who we are even before then (Jeremiah1:5). King David said this about God’s role in our conception: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb . . . your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” Psalm (139:13, 16).

God is the One who gives life, and only He has the right to take it away. Every person, born or unborn, is a precious soul made by God, in His image. Every life is an entrustment from God that we need to celebrate and protect.

David Nowak is a Weatherford resident.