Commentary: Science and Abortion

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Repost, April 3rd: Due to its being published in the Manitoban, this article had to be taken off of the site for a few weeks, however here it is again in its entirety.  You may also read the Letters to the Editor written in response to this here: http://www.themanitoban.com/2012/04/re-science-and-abortion-2/10280/ and here: http://www.themanitoban.com/2012/04/re-science-and-abortion/10278/

Originally posted on March 14, 2012 at 15:01

March 14th, 2012 marks the 133th birthday of one of the greatest minds of all time, Albert Einstein.  Not only did he come up with the theory of general relativity and mass-energy equivalence, he did extensive work on the modern quantum theory which would later influence Schodinger’s work with the uncertainty principal equation.  Oh Science, what would we do without you?  We’ve placed considerable trust in you since Roger Bacon promoted the scientific method in the 1200’s.  Have we ever recently doubted you?  Well, to doubt something like the uncertainty principle might be out of our realm of comprehension, but there can be some facts of science that we can be certain of; for instance if you walk off the roof of the building, you will fall down, and likely you would fall to your death.

So why would one doubt that human life starts at fertilization?  Is it like the question whether eating processed foods increases your risk of cancer or is it more like the fact that there is no gravity on the moon? One is highly debatable and the other is simply a known fact.  Fertilization of a human egg by a sperm and its development into a human baby has been happening since the beginning of man; it’s only the intricacies of the process that were discovered in the 1800s.  This doesn’t mean that fertilization started in the 1800s; it simply means that our knowledge of the facts of fertilization and development began then and has now increased to the point that we know during which week the child’s heart starts beating, or when a neuron receives its first stimuli.  When human life starts was (and is) a fact, regardless of whether we discovered it or not.

When can we say we have discovered something for sure?  The answer to this question is why Roger Bacon came up with the scientific method, which we have been using for over 700 years.  We observe, hypothesize, experiment, theorize, observe further, question more, experiment further, and then perhaps come to the discovery of some fact about our physical world.  There is much on-going research about new developments, discoveries, and understanding of different mechanisms that is not complete, however there are things we do know for certain.  For example: the law of gravity.

Science is evidence based.  The truth that science discovers is explained by the proof provided by the observations and tests of scientists.  One cannot simply reject a fact of science as a non-truth just on a whim; contrary evidence must be provided that dis-proves the science before it can be put into doubt.  In the case of when human life begins, there is much evidence that proves that it begins at fertilization, and nothing that would demonstrate otherwise.

There is a Planned Parenthood video (found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3eUVjnhs1c ) that rejects science as being able to determine the beginning of human life. This viewpoint rejects logic and makes the issue personal and subjective.

“We are not going to try and use science or evidence. The fact of the matter is that this is opinion. We all have our own beliefs about when life begins. Science is not ultimate truth. That’s why it’s science. It’s always being studied. It’s always being taught and retaught and rearticulated. So to insinuate that this science is ultimate truth in the matter of what is human life is illegitimate.”

I have already explained that in some cases, we do know science to be objectively true.  Life does without a doubt start at fertilization; however the beginning of personhood that is often debated and is put under moral questioning.

“It’s a matter of reproductive choice. The living, breathing, sentient being that has control over her body is the one we listen to, not science… Science cannot be applied to my body.”

The speaker is therefore stating that it is the woman who has control over her body, and yet when a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, did she choose to have it?  Was it not nature, identified by science, that caused the cancer?

“You need to focus on the birth control issue rather than the photos or the scientific evidence that [was given].”

To make their side known and defend their point, the abortion advocates would rather cast science and reason aside, disregarding the objective truth.  Instead they base their argument on subjective truth which is not absolute, unreliable, and ever-changing – depending on the opinion of whomever the question is posed to.  Absolute, objective truth is denied and ignored because it does not conform to the viewpoint that is convenient for Planned Parenthood.

So when trying to discover what is the ultimate truth, think about what agrees with reality.  Reality corresponds with actual facts.  Fact is truth proven by direct observation and experimentation.  If it is your own personal reality, not grounded in facts, then it is not objective.  If you don’t know what is real and true, look up what the observations are.  That’s scientific method right there.  If you find that human life does not start at fertilization, and have scientific – which is observational, objective truth – proof of that, then please provide it and we will gladly change our position.

P.S. Happy Pi Day! 🙂

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